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Bulletpoint

What would a WW2 battalion typically be expected to achieve?

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haven´t read through all so might be repetitive. In fact the "depends on" is more the rule and less the exception. A battailon usually does not attack nor defend all alone, unless it´s composed of multi arms, like i.e advance detachments purposely built to spearhead a larger forces attack (mobile, tank & infantry, engineers and hvy wpns or Arty). Flank alignment or lack of a flank (which is rather rare) also plays a role. Frontline coverage also depends on support arms and armament in general. On suitable terrain (open, good LOF) a wider area can be covered with weaponry alone and does not need to be filled up with men all along the frontline. Same counts for quality. A HQ small force can beat a larger low Q force, but enough mass applied the HQ force can be overwhelmed as well. Denser terrain (forest, MOUT) usually requires denser troop assigments, but as the US proofed in Aachen 1944 that can also be dealt with economically with sound tactics and heavy support. Yet germans in Aachen were not at par with russians in Stalingrad when it comes to morale and tenacity i.e So the rule for a Bn attack or defense is.... it depends.

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On 8/24/2019 at 7:03 AM, Bulletpoint said:

Yes, this was the idea. Basically setting it up as three smaller scenarios in one.

But I was thinking about giving the whole battalion to the player at game start. Letting him decide whether to follow the plan of committing the companies one at a time, or leading with two companies, one in reserve, or any other combination. I think many scenarios are a bit too "scripted".

Also, I was thinking about doing something I call "armour on demand". You start the game with, say, 5 tanks/assault guns in reserve, and the enemy gets points for spotting them. So if you think you need armour support, it's your choice to commit the tanks, but it will decrease your final score. This would be to emulate you as the battalion commander having a bit more to say than a company commander who just has to accept and play the cards he's dealt.

 

Some people don't like this approach since it presents a lot of management and exposes your troops (and mission score) to casualties but I personally like the sound of it. Having an "on map reserve" gives the player something Commanders had realistically, a reserve, and it was up to them to commit it or not. You can then contextualize scenarios further by either having your reserve available to stop counter attacks or optionally commit to seize final objectives or finish off pesky SS holdouts determined to die for the Fatherland. 

I can imagine a scenario where seizure of the main objectives is more or less practical with one Company and for bonus points and maybe altering the campaign direction you could commit your reserve company to seizing the last objective, but in doing so you are risking casualties that might push your score back down making the whole endeavor moot. Another scenario's briefing implies the ominous presence of a nearby Kampfgruppe so you might want to keep one of your Companies back to "slide" it in front of a potential counter attack route. 

 

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FM 7-5 Infantry Field Manual 1940

The usual limits for war strength units with flanks covered by other
troops are indicated as follows:

Unit Frontage in yards

Squad.....................50-75

Platoon------------------100-200

Company------------------200-500

Battalion----------------500-1,000

Regiment---------------1,000-2,000

 

These figures are just a guide line for a full strength unit in good terrain conditions. There are some excellent responses in this post that point out the various aspects that affect the possibility of obtaining a frontage of these distances.

 

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On 8/23/2019 at 12:44 PM, Bulletpoint said:

Ok, so what I get from this is that a typical mission for a battalion would be taking a small town. Not a village - that would be a task fit for a company. Not a big town; that would be a regiment/division job.

The reason I asked the question is because I was thinking about doing a one-map campaign where you get a full battalion on the map and then a long time to achieve several objectives.

Typically, designers split such missions up into three submissions, where you control one company in each mission. I was thinking about doing one big map, and then use phase lines. Company 1 is expected to reach phase line 1 within the first hour, company 2 will reach phase line 2 within the second hour, etc.

Or alternatively: Each of the three companies has a simultaneous task to begin with, and will then later focus their attack on a final objective. But I find such scenarios get very tiresome to play, as you have to juggle three different companies and their disparate tactical situations each turn.

Currently, this stuff is just at the thinking stage, and I don't know if I'll ever find time to do the scenario. But to start with, at least I would need to know what it would be reasonable to expect a battalion to do - say within a day.

Two very good examples of the small unit campaigns are “Devils Descent” and “Das Komen.” I believe both are in the CMMODS IV. Devils Descent in particular is good as it’s an Airborne Company, and follows a single commander. I really liked it. You can probably get some really good pointers from playing/dissecting it.

One of the best is in CMBS. I think it was done by MOS, and IMHO, is the most ingenious and creative single-map campaign that I’ve ever seen. It’s also on the CMMODS IV.

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On 8/24/2019 at 7:20 AM, Bulletpoint said:

I posted this question to learn more about the historical side of things.

I can't recommend Battle (also released as Anatomy of a Battle) by Kenneth Macksey enough, for stuff like this. Macksey fought through the Normandy campaign himself, and this is a thinly fictionalised account of a generic battle in Normandy from multiple perspectives, from soup to nuts, and spends quite a lot of time on the pre-battle preparations; liaison, movement, fire planning, logistic arrangements, along with reconnaissance and planning. It's quite old now - it was released in about 1974 - but a good mil-hist library, or university library should(?) have a copy. Alternately try interloan, or second hand book places (meatspace and online).

The putative battle that Macksey describes would make for a pretty good CM scenario. I know that because I made one several years ago :D

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would be interesting to sort that all out on a case per case study on a CM map. A frontage usually means "responsibility" for it, not necessarily the way units are to be employed to achieve a certain goal. A Bn can have a frontage of few hundred meters if employed in a point of main effort (Schwerpunkt) and well supported with reserves, as well as heavy support from rear and (non existent in game) flank units. OTOH a Bn can be tasked to hold (or secure) a multi km river line in a little important frontline sector.

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Sorry to pop in and post something without reading the thread to date but I'm reading "Armageddon in Stalingrad" by David Glantz and it is chock full of orders that are given to various size units in Stalingrad on a near daily basis and what results they actually achieved (a previous book detailed the drive to Stalingrad).  It went from going miles in the drive to Stalingrad down to trying to take a single block by the end of the battle.  The Russian plans were often nothing more then flights of fancy.  

It is dry (Sahara Desert dry) reading for the most part but an excellent reference.

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