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IICptMillerII

Combat Mission AAR: MSR Titan

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12 hours ago, IanL said:

Having said that there is a balance to be made here, depending on availability resources. In an environment where there is significant enemy armour operating the correct decision may in fact be to risk your son to deal with the sniper given a later encounter with enemy armour may also be fatal to your son and his mates.

This is a fair point and I agree for the most part. Javelins should prioritize enemy armor, as this is what they are primarily designed to destroy, and because it is a limited asset. That being said though, a heavy machine gun/sniper/etc pinning you down and causing casualties is a more immediate threat than a possible tank that isn't currently causing casualties. I am of the mind that while ammo should be prioritized, it should not be strictly rationed. Those reserve javelin missiles aren't worth anything if all the operators have been killed by that heavy machine gun/sniper/etc. 

Again, I agree with what you're saying, I just have a slightly different way of viewing the use of ammo. Both rationing and liberal use have drawbacks. Which approach is correct largely comes down to the specific situation and the ever present fog of war. C'est la guerre.

12 hours ago, IanL said:

It is absolutely an increase in lethality but survivability is really only indirectly effected since the Javelin system does not directly protect soldiers from the effects of in coming fire.

Again I agree with what you are saying, but I tend to take a more proactive approach to defense. The best way to survive a gunshot wound is to not get shot in the first place. Same goes for tank combat. Many tend to place most of their faith in the armor of an Abrams tank, instead of following the tactical principle that if you are doing everything correctly the Abrams should never get shot at in the first place. Of course this is an ideal that is usually not attainable, but the principle remains. The best way to survive on any battlefield is to not get shot at. This is why I think the javelin increases survivability for infantry assets. It allows them to engage enemy armor (or other threats) from a concealed position, and has a very high certainty of destroying whatever target its engaging. If my javelin operators can wipe out all enemy tanks/IFVs before the enemy ever has a chance to engage my men, then I view them as the more survivable asset. Again, lots of this comes down to the specifics of the tactical situation and fog of war.

I think the last screenshot of the previous update is a decent illustration of what I'm trying to convey:

On 6/1/2019 at 7:09 PM, IICptMillerII said:

As this is happening, the infantry along the elevated road spot another T-72AV parked in the orchard. They engage it with a javelin missile, destroying this one as well.

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In this specific situation, the javelin operators have greater survivability compared to the tank they are engaging. Without the javelin, the only thing this infantry team would have would be concealment to protect them. With the javelin, they become the hunters and the tank the prey.

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On ‎6‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 2:53 AM, Erwin said:

It's not viable to use $100,000 to kill one person when one has tens of thousands (or more) persons to kill.  (Unless one gutted all other weapons platforms expenditures/purchases.)  Overly expensive wars are what destroy empires.

So... What is the dollar value of a human life? Depends on who's answering, I would say.

To quote my favorite book: "Men are not potatoes."

On ‎6‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 8:10 AM, Sgt.Squarehead said:

I've taken to parking AFVs up behind buildings or dense trees (or even better both) and working in close cooperation with an infantry team, popping out to fire for ten seconds at a time and not a second more!  ;)

I did that during my game against @IICptMillerII on 'Atlantic Games' but even shoot and scoot orders with a ten second pause didn't save a Leopard who got nailed by a missile AFTER retreating behind a building. 'Fire and Forget' really does work quite well...

I'd recommend nothing longer than a five second pause in position.

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On ‎6‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 7:57 PM, IICptMillerII said:

Many tend to place most of their faith in the armor of an Abrams tank, instead of following the tactical principle that if you are doing everything correctly the Abrams should never get shot at in the first place. Of course this is an ideal that is usually not attainable, but the principle remains. The best way to survive on any battlefield is to not get shot at.

Sherman tank operators should ingest this wisdom with their corn flakes every morning, and with their tea in the afternoon.

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2 hours ago, General Jack Ripper said:

I did that during my game against @IICptMillerII on 'Atlantic Games' but even shoot and scoot orders with a ten second pause didn't save a Leopard who got nailed by a missile AFTER retreating behind a building. 'Fire and Forget' really does work quite well...

I'd recommend nothing longer than a five second pause in position.

So far I'm getting away with ten seconds pretty consistently.....I did an accidental extra click on one of my orders, leaving one BMP-3M paused for 15 seconds, it immediately ate a Javelin (my only AFV loss so far)!  :(

In the same game I had another BMP-3M take a sabot round from an Abrams.....It went clean through the empty infantry compartment, doing no damage whatsoever!  :o

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead

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The Bridges (Cont.)

Then the infantry make contact. An enemy radioman is spotted moving between the buildings of NAI 6 up on the ridge. A Bradley from 2nd platoon spots the movement and pumps some 25mm HE rounds into the area.

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As 1st squad cautiously advances closer to the buildings of NAI 12, they draw fire. A casualty is suffered, and the squad goes to ground and begins returning fire.

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A sharp firefight breaks out. The infantry returns fire as tanks are brought up to pump coax and .50 cal fire into the buildings. A few enemy RPGs are fired at the tanks, but none hit. It’s a race to see who can build fire superiority and win the fight.

A fire mission is called in on the buildings up on the ridge on NAI 6 to help suppress/destroy the enemy infantry there.

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Abrams along the MSR pump HEAT rounds into the buildings of NAI 12 and quickly help me gain fire superiority.

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With the enemy forces near the MSR either destroyed, suppressed, or under direct observation, I move 2 Abrams across Bridge 32 to strongpoint the other side. They take no fire and encounter no obstacles on the bridge or the far side. I now have possession of both Bridge objectives.

I’ve spoken too soon. Scout team 2 moves up along the left (North) side of the bridge, only to discover what appears to be an entire infantry platoon in foxholes down in the gully directly next to the bridge.

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The scouts take a casualty before returning fire. This is a curious threat. It doesn’t pose any direct threat to vehicles moving across the bridge, though I can’t just leave it be. The enemy infantry could mount a suicidal yet potentially damaging attack from this position so it must be dealt with.

The scouts Bradley moves up to put direct fire down into the enemy foxholes. It is only able to get a few bursts off before it is hit and knocked out by an RPG. Luckily, the crew survives and are able to bail out. Further, the Bradley is not on fire, so there is little risk to the scouts in close proximity.

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A moment later, the scouts return fire with their javelin, vaporizing one of the enemy foxholes.

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I decide to risk moving a tank forward to put fire into the gulch. I have the tank move forward just enough to only spot one of the enemy foxholes and give it a pause command of 20 seconds. After which the tank will reverse. The maneuver pays off, the tank is able to lay down coax fire and causes a casualty before reversing to safety. No RPGs are fired.

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The tank repeats this maneuver and is soon joined by a wingman. The wingman performs the same maneuver but from a different vantage point. They fire both coax and main gun rounds into the foxholes down in the gulch.

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1st squad, 2nd platoon takes up a position overlooking the enemy in the gulch. They add their fire to the two tanks, and the enemy position is quickly destroyed.

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2nd platoon continues to slowly advance on the buildings of NAI 12. A few enemy infantry make their presence known, but they are quickly bombarded by both small arms and 25mm fire from my infantry and Bradleys. One of the Bradleys fires a TOW into a building, destroying it. The resistance in NAI 12 is rapidly diminishing and the area is soon cleared.

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Some stragglers are seen milling around NAI 6 and are sporadically engaged by both Bradleys and infantry. The stragglers appear to be shellshocked and disoriented, wandering around with little semblance of order. At this point I think it is safe to assume that any threat posed by enemy units on NAI 6 has been neutralized. As final insurance, another short but sharp fire mission is called in on the rubble of NAI 6.

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Nice screens again.

That gully position was an interesting move, but it needed more serious AT capability to be effective....and an escape plan. Perhaps support from afar to engage your tanks it could have posed a better threat. 

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On 6/10/2019 at 8:32 PM, Sgt.Squarehead said:

That position would have been a lot more effective if CM vehicles had to abide by the normal rules of gun elevation/depression. 

For the most part, my tanks were engaging enemy infantry the furthest away from them, so the depression was actually realistic. This was partly by design. I wanted to make sure the tanks weren't overexposing themselves to reduce the chance of RPGs being fired at them, and so that whatever unit they were shooting at was thoroughly suppressed/destroyed. The Bradley scout vehicle that was destroyed was also engaging targets at the least extreme depression angle. Though I do think one of the tanks did fire at an enemy unit that was below realistic depression, but moments like that were the exception. Looking back at the pictures they are a bit disorienting and don't do the best job of conveying the scale.

All that said, it would have been slightly more difficult to get effective vehicle fire down into that gully, and the infantry likely would have had to intervene sooner if there was turret elevation modeled in game. 

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Simulating realistic gun elevation and depression would be a great addition to the game. It would create some new tactical challenges and would further differentiate vehicle performance in cities and hills. It would also improve infantry chances against armour in cities.

I think gun elevation was an advantage of BMP-2 over BMP-1 in Afghanistan. Also T-55 have limited vertical gun movement due to small height (no room inside for the  gun to move). It was exploited by Israelis in Golan Heights during Yom Kippur. 

Maybe the next  iteration of game engine could support it.

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3 hours ago, TOG said:

Simulating realistic gun elevation and depression would be a great addition to the game. It would create some new tactical challenges and would further differentiate vehicle performance in cities and hills. It would also improve infantry chances against armour in cities.

We should all be aware of what this will mean. Either the AI would have to be enhanced to automatically reposition to get the shot it wants. That means armour backing up on its own and moving around the battle field. We should expect a lot more "but he backed up right into the line of fire of <insert scary enemy here> the game is broken". Or it will be yet another thing that the AI cannot do that humans can - we don't really want more differentiating between human control and AI control.

3 hours ago, TOG said:

Maybe the next  iteration of game engine could support it.

It would be cool - yes.

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3 minutes ago, IanL said:

We should all be aware of what this will mean. Either the AI would have to be enhanced to automatically reposition to get the shot it wants. That means armour backing up on its own and moving around the battle field. We should expect a lot more "but he backed up right into the line of fire of <insert scary enemy here> the game is broken". Or it will be yet another thing that the AI cannot do that humans can - we don't really want more differentiating between human control and AI control.

Yup, that's the rub.  :unsure:

It's a pain in the neck for those conflicts where the use of elevated positions was a distinct tactic, Soviet Afghanistan, Chechnya and the recent fighting in Syria all spring to mind. 

However a game-breaker it isn't.....IMHO.

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4 minutes ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

Yup, that's the rub.  :unsure:

Indeed they are design decisions that have to be made. Us players can blissfully list our wishes but the boss has to decide how to deal with the side effects and what to prioritize - or not.

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Didn't think about AI. Gun elevation would really hamper it's performance.

With two player games it would be addittional micromanagement - it would probably have to take into account vehicle inclination so people would be looking for small slopes. 

Maybe it could be an option you could turn on and off... But probably it is just too little effect and too much complication to do it just for 2 player games.

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FINALE

Bridges 31 and 32 are secure. Artillery is falling on the remnants of enemy infantry on NAI 6. Casualties are being recovered and tended to. No more enemy forces directly threaten the MSR. Task Force Miller has accomplished its primary objective. However, based on the initial intelligence reports, there should still be a sizeable enemy presence left on the field. A handful of enemy tanks are unaccounted for, and there is likely at least a full company of infantry left out there as well. In short, the enemy still has enough combat power to contest the MSR, if he so chooses.

My forces consolidate around the Bridge objectives and reorganize. No additional enemy forces are spotted. More curious is a complete lack of enemy artillery. I was expecting the bridges to be shelled once I moved onto them, but so far there has been no enemy artillery response. I’m still wary of this and keep an eye out for spotting rounds.

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Its time for a little shock and awe. The battlefield is quiet, and SIGINT has been reporting a possible grouping of enemy armor in an orchard, behind a large earthen embankment just forward of the bridges. The JTAC vectors in the flight of 2 A-10s to seek and destroy and targets in the orchard.

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A few moments later the A-10’s arrive on station. A single MANPAD is fired at them, but the missile misses.

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Now it’s the A-10’s turn. They quickly acquire targets and unleash a flurry of Maverick AGM’s, scoring multiple hits in just a matter of seconds.

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Smoke clouds soon begin to rise into the sky, indicating direct hits. This proves to be too much for the enemy, and his morale finally cracks. The enemy capitulates.

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Task Force Miller successfully completed its objectives. The bridges were secured, the MSR was cleared, and the enemy was destroyed and routed from the field. 2/3rds of an enemy armored battalion was destroyed, and roughly half of an infantry battalion was destroyed as well. Additionally, the enemy lost most of its AFV’s and about half of its infantry heavy weapons company.

In comparison, my losses were very light, especially considering what I was up against. The task force has more than enough remaining combat power to continue combat operations, whether that means defending against an enemy counter attack or continuing the attack and exploiting the gains made here.

Special thanks to my opponent for sticking with it despite the losses he took.

I hope everyone has enjoyed the AAR. There will be a quick post combat write-up where I will give details on some technical aspects, and my thoughts on the battle overall. In the meantime, feel free to post any feedback you may have, whether it is tactical or technical.

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Thank for the AAR...An enjoyable read 😎

One question...It seems that you used your AFVs to a very limited degree when it comes to 'recon by fire' and preliminary suppresion of the buildings in the various NAIs...

where the buildings difficult to get LOF to without advancing recklessly close  with your AFVs ?

Or did you have some other reasons for not putting a few rounds into them...even some bursts from the Bushmasters ought to be able to mess up any troops inside...atleast to some degree...

Some of your AFVs areafire and some overwatch...sounds quite good to me...😁

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52 minutes ago, Sgt.Squarehead said:

Suspect the FOs may have been buying the farm while waiting for the spotting rounds to fall.....Did he have any TRPs?

Yes, OpFor did have TRP's. I mention this in more detail in the upcoming post combat analysis. Though I still do not know why the bridges were never shelled, or even zeroed. It's certainly possible that there were no FO's available to call for fire. I also think it is likely that my opponent never identified the bridges as being one of my primary objectives. 

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POST COMBAT REVIEW

 

To begin, I’ll start by reiterating a few points:

Logistical/Misc Notes on Scenario:

The map is taken from the mini-campaign “Forging Steel” by George MC. The mini-campaign was originally made for Shock Force 1. None of the terrain was modified at all. However, both sides force compositions were completely changed by myself.

The goal of this scenario was to create a plausible force on force engagement. US forces were based on the modern armored brigade combat team TO&E. OpFor forces were based on the formational organization of a Soviet era tank division, though the equipment is not meant to be a 1:1 representation of Soviet forces.

When I first put this scenario together, I wanted to give OpFor armored vehicles (specifically tanks) that could go one to one with US armor. I had done some testing prior to the battle that revealed that the T-72AV TURMS-T is capable of destroying M1A1HC’s frontally at combat ranges. However, I did not want the OpFor tanks equipped with the thermal sights, as those types of sights are relatively rare for the type of force depicted by OpFor in this scenario. It turns out that the T-72AV TURMS-T fires better ammo than the T-72AV. I only discovered this after the battle was well underway. Because of this, OpFor was slightly understrength in their armor from how I meant to depict them. While I certainly think OpFor would have fared somewhat better, I do not think the results of the battle would have been drastically different.

A note on C2: unfortunately the way the Syrians are organized in game hinders some of their units from benefiting from a full C2 circuit. Tank units have to be purchased as individual companies to form a battalion. This means that, unless tanks from two different companies are next to each other within ear shot, they do not share information. Again, I do not think this drastically altered the results of this battle. I was attacking down a fairly obvious and open bit of terrain (the MSR) which was covered from multiple angles, all with good line of sight. It is still worth mentioning though. Perhaps Syrian tank battalions will be added in a future patch, or there is some editor magic that can be done to solve this issue?

A final technical note: OpFor got target reference points (TRPs) in this battle, but I forgot to give the US side any. In an attack like this, both sides would have pre-registered fires, simulated in CM as TRPs. This was a minor omission on my part and did nothing to hinder my overall efforts in the battle.

 

Combat Analysis 

What did I do wrong?

The real life point of an AAR is to examine what happened and why, and how to improve for future engagements. In my case, I think the single biggest issue I had was maintaining unit cohesion, especially among my tank platoons. My mechanized infantry managed to stay together for the most part throughout the battle. This is in large part because they are married to the Bradley’s they ride into battle with, making them easier to keep from mixing with one another. Tanks are another story. By the end of the battle, all of my tank platoons were mixed up. The smallest tactical unit for infantry is the fireteam. The tank equivalent of the infantry fireteam is a section, or pair. As the battle began to stretch down the MSR, and with the enemy tank ambush, my tanks had to pair up with whatever was closest to them and run with it. Luckily, this did not end up being a major combat concern for me, though that kind of disorganization and unit confusion can be exploited by an enemy to great effect. Its definitely something I have to work on.

The other mistake I made was committing the first Apache against a suspected armor concentration early in the battle. I knew the enemy would have local air defense assets and still risked sending in the Apache. As a result it was shot down, and I could not rely on my significant air power until the end of the battle. Even then, the A-10’s took fire from a remaining Igla team and luckily managed to defeat the missile. Proofing air space before committing vulnerable and expensive air assets is another thing I have to work on.

If anyone else thinks I committed a tactical error feel free to mention it.

 

The Tank Battle:

This was certainly the most exciting part of the whole battle. It all could have been over for my task force right then and there. If the enemy tank ambush was just a bit better timed and hit me simultaneously from two angles at once, I could easily have suffered twice the casualties in half the time. Further, many of my Bradley’s were in the open, loaded with infantry. A few volleys into these soft assets could have knocked me out of the battle completely.

That said, given the circumstances I think I did everything correctly. While I did have soft assets exposed in the open, at no point were any of those soft assets, or any assets in the open left uncovered. I had multiple pairs of tanks in overwatch, covering different angles all at the same time. Covering units in the open, and just in general is extremely important, especially in the highly lethal environments found on modern battlefields. A single unchecked volley of enemy fire can be enough to destroy an entire unit in the open before it has a chance to turn itself and engage. In the end it was this simple tactical principle that saved my task force from being decimated early in the fight.

 

Hill 113 and Route Blue:

At one point I was asked why I did not attempt to take Hill 113. I identified it as key terrain, especially early in the fight where it had dominating lines of sight over my entire task force as it deployed along the MSR. The main reason I decided not to put my forces on the hill was because I did not want to divide my combat power or distract from my main objective. While it is true that Hill 113 was key terrain, it was not an objective. Further, taking the hill would not aid me in taking my main objectives, it would only have helped my task force in the early part of the battle as they deployed. After that, it would have been a slog through urban areas and forests to get to the far side of the hill and assist with the capture of the two bridge objectives. If I had a third company team then I would have committed it to taking the Hill and holding down my flank, but with only two company teams I decided I was better off concentrating on the MSR and the bridges. I believe I made the right decision here.

 

Closing:

Despite the lopsided end result, I hope everyone enjoyed following along and found the AAR both entertaining and informational. I think it provides a decent vignette on how company teams operate on a modern battlefield against a conventional enemy. As always, if anyone has any technical or tactical feedback feel free to share.  

If anyone is interested, I have compiled this AAR into a single PDF document. I can post a link of it to be shared if there is any interest. 

Edited by IICptMillerII

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41 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

It turns out that the T-72AV TURMS-T fires better ammo than the T-72AV. I only discovered this after the battle was well underway. Because of this, OpFor was slightly understrength in their armor from how I meant to depict them.

So, what would you do to the scenario? Live with OpFor having thermal optics or bump the number of tanks up?

 

42 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

my tanks had to pair up with whatever was closest to them and run with it

I am curious in real life what would tankers do? As your tank company take casualties and tanks become combat ineffective what is SOP in a running battle like this? Do tankers just dynamically cooperate like this? Does the tempo slow to bring the remains of a platoon back together? Just curious what would happen in real life.

 

45 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

Further, many of my Bradley’s were in the open, loaded with infantry. A few volleys into these soft assets could have knocked me out of the battle completely.

For sure. I have done that to an opponent. Got an early break and caught several loaded Bradleys in open with a couple of T90s in a much smaller battle. In two minutes I took advantage of his mistake and totally broke his attack. Even though there was more fighting, really, the battle ended there.

 

47 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

If the enemy tank ambush was just a bit better timed and hit me simultaneously from two angles at once, I could easily have suffered twice the casualties in half the time. Further, many of my Bradley’s were in the open, loaded with infantry. A few volleys into these soft assets could have knocked me out of the battle completely. 

That said, given the circumstances I think I did everything correctly.

Those two statements are not congruous. If your opponent had an opportunity (even if they didn't capitalize on it) to savage your tank force and or your loaded infantry the I do not believe you can see you did everything correctly. I see that in general you trying not to fall into the trap of "I won therefore I have nothing to learn" but these sentences stand out for me.

Please note I am not saying I wouldn't have made less mistakes or anything I am just pointing out you have an opportunity for learning here that I don't think you are taking advantage of. Also note I actually don't know what the better tactical action would have been. It could be an interesting discussion.

 

54 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

I hope everyone enjoyed following along and found the AAR both entertaining and informational

Hell yeah! Excellent write up and very entertaining and informative. Well done. I'll get an up vote on that post eventually - I'm out, again, for today.

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7 minutes ago, IanL said:

So, what would you do to the scenario? Live with OpFor having thermal optics or bump the number of tanks up?

Good question. I think given the overall theme of the scenario, the appropriate thing to do is to give OpFor the TURMS-T for the ammo. The better spotting is just an added bonus I suppose. In a perfect world the regular T-72AV could be armed with the better ammo of the TURMS-T, but alas. 

10 minutes ago, IanL said:

I am curious in real life what would tankers do? As your tank company take casualties and tanks become combat ineffective what is SOP in a running battle like this? Do tankers just dynamically cooperate like this? Does the tempo slow to bring the remains of a platoon back together? Just curious what would happen in real life.

During an attack, yes they would dynamically cooperate. If possible you never want to inhibit your own momentum during an attack. After the immediate fighting is over the units would reform, with weaker units taking on a more supporting role. My main mistake was not doing a good job of keeping individual platoons together. IRL they would have not gotten so jumbled together because platoon leaders would constantly be maintaining unit cohesion. Whereas in CM the player is every leader at every level, some things tend to fall between the cracks. 

15 minutes ago, IanL said:

Those two statements are not congruous. If your opponent had an opportunity (even if they didn't capitalize on it) to savage your tank force and or your loaded infantry the I do not believe you can see you did everything correctly. I see that in general you trying not to fall into the trap of "I won therefore I have nothing to learn" but these sentences stand out for me.

Please note I am not saying I wouldn't have made less mistakes or anything I am just pointing out you have an opportunity for learning here that I don't think you are taking advantage of. Also note I actually don't know what the better tactical action would have been. It could be an interesting discussion.

No worries! I think I wasn't very clear of what I meant by "doing everything right given the circumstances." The beginning moves of an attack like this are generally the most dangerous for the attacker. The enemy has a local initiative in that he generally is allowed to fire first, at a time and place of his choosing. It is during this beginning part where the defender has his primary and best advantage. As the attack develops however, the advantage usually switches to the attacker as the attack itself develops. For the attacker, the best counter to the defenders initial advantage is solid tactical principles, such as overwatch. When I said that I think I did things correctly, I mean that I followed and maintained those tactical principles and doing so allowed me to weather the attack and come through much better off than had I not. 

An extreme example of this is the opening beach sequence in Saving Private Ryan. At first, the attackers are at a complete disadvantage and suffer heavily for it. As the attack develops and the initial defenses are overcome however, the advantage quickly switches to the attacker. As a specific example, when the ramp first drops, the Rangers are hammered by enfilading fire into the landing craft and are cut down. When the advantage has switched, fleeing German troops are slaughtered in a trench from two sides. In relation to this battle, my forces had to deploy across the open terrain to my direct front, even though I knew it would be covered by the enemy. The best way to cross covered open terrain is by using overwatch, which I did. So, given the tactical situation, I believe I did the right thing. 

If I was forced to do it differently, the only thing I can think of would be to hold my infantry back for much longer and just carried out the advance with the tanks. However at a certain point that violates another well known tactical principle, which is that armor should never operate completely unsupported. There were buildings and terrain features (woods primarily) that were occupied by enemy infantry that if left uncleared by my infantry, could have hit my exposed tanks in the flanks from multiple angles, attritting them in detail. Even if I had done something like this and not suffered any negative consequences, I do not think it would have drastically changed the battle. That said, there is plenty of nuance to these types of tactical situations. Generally as long as you are keeping your own casualties low while maximizing the damage you do to the enemy, I think you're doing it right. 

33 minutes ago, IanL said:

Hell yeah! Excellent write up and very entertaining and informative. Well done. I'll get an up vote on that post eventually - I'm out, again, for today.

Thanks!

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