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"Recon" troops aka bait


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Hey everyone. After reading a bit about tactics in general I've come to the conclusion that recon troops are quite expandable.

They seem to be sent up front to wait until they get shot and then the main effort can see where the shots come from and react accordingly.

My question is not exactly CMBN related but I'm wondering how are those poor guys chosen in real life ? Do you send the dumbest/useless ones in front and hope for the best ?

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Hey everyone. After reading a bit about tactics in general I've come to the conclusion that recon troops are quite expandable.

They seem to be sent up front to wait until they get shot and then the main effort can see where the shots come from and react accordingly.

My question is not exactly CMBN related but I'm wondering how are those poor guys chosen in real life ? Do you send the dumbest/useless ones in front and hope for the best ?

Varied -- it was really up to the squad leader's discretion. Often, it was the FNG (F****** New Guy). In other cases, squad members took turns going "on point".

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They are made to volunteer. ;) But they're far from expendable.

Recon troops are sent up front to get shot at but not get shot. Recon troops that get shot are only half as useful because they cannot relay much information once they're dead.

The difference lies in the tactics employed. Simply waltzing forward without the use of cover, stealth, pauses for observation etc. will lead to dead recon units, while proper recon tactics will lead to very valuable recon units.

Martin

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In the Wehrmacht maybe the most important principle was the "leadership of the best". It lead to the unwritten law that subordinates were not ordered for potentially suicidal tasks.

This principle was the real backbone of morale and strenght of the german forces. Especially the bounds between the NCO-corps (Feldwebel) and the soldiers were extremely good because of this. This principle means, that a good leader never demands from subordinates, what he is not willing to do on his own (not only valid in military!!!). And it also forbids, that leaders lead, only because of their rank. Instead the rank was seen more as the result of proven qualities in the field and the character.

Leadership by example.

Who maybe has ever served in a unit with the spirit of such true leadership, will have experienced on his own the huge impact of that principle on cohesion, comradeship and discipline compared to units with bad leaders (those that only demand from others).

In reality this principle worked that good, that always enough volunteers were available.

Exceptions to this principle were made in the case of backstabbers (Kameradenschweine) or if a soldier was to blame for something and that way he could get rid of his "debt".

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The golden rule of real world RECCE troops was to "See without being Seen" using "Sneak and PeeK" tactics .... ;)

I certainly wasn't "cannon fodder" when I was tasked to RECCE Troop as part of my M4 CC training ... :D

At various times, we trained with Bren Gun Carriers, Feret Scout Car and finally M51 pattern jeeps with .30 Browning MG's mounted on pillar posts and wire cutters fixed to front bumper.

Most of the time we dismounted "turret down" style and went ahead on foot to get a good look with binos.

Regards,

Doug

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Who maybe has ever served in a unit with the spirit of such true leadership, will have experienced on his own the huge impact of that principle on cohesion, comradeship and discipline compared to units with bad leaders (those that only demand from others).

In reality this principle worked that good, that always enough volunteers were available.

Yep, when that kind of leadership is working there are often more volunteers than needed.

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i served 15 years with SF Recon.

when we sent scouts to watch around the corner or over the next hill, they never went without good cover by the main patrol.

depending on the size of the patrol (usually 4 to 8) 1 or 2 soldiers went ahead and the rest covered their advance with their weapons. also on the move we often had 1 or 2 soldiers 10 to 15 m in the lead so that not the whole patrol would get pinned down. the officer or nco leading the patrol would then be the first man of the main patrol - in that way he was able to maneuver with the main patrol if necessary.

you would also choose an approach which gave you good cover (a gully, a hedge, bushes) where available. rarely one would traverse in the open.

but being on point of the patrol always was particularly stressful - if somebody got hit, it was usually the point man - that's why the position changed on a regular basis.

in CMBN scout patrols tend to be too large and too bunched together, so that too many soldiers get hit if they get under fire. you have to be very careful to keep them properly covered with the rest of the squad/platoon. also most of the scenarios don't give enough time for scouts to move ahead carefully and slowly.

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In this movie it is demonstrated how an infantry squad could be employed as recon patrol:

At around 13 minutes you see how the squad approaches a suspected enemy position. The squad splits up and three men (including the squadleader) keep advancing towards the suspected position while the rest of the squad remains covered and concealed. The team approaching the position freezes after a few meters and pretends to have spotted enemies. They runs back into cover.

If the suspected enemy position was a real one, they might feel identified and open fire and reveal themselves. If nothing happens it is more likely that the area is clear of enemies.

This will hardly work against a human opponent in CM though.

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No, scouts have a better chance of survival because the defenders want to wait the main body to enter the ambush zone!

I'm not sure how this translates into a "better chance of survival". By the time the main body enters the ambush zone the scouts are at point blank or even have passed enemy positions. Not much of a chance IMO.

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I'm not sure how this translates into a "better chance of survival". By the time the main body enters the ambush zone the scouts are at point blank or even have passed enemy positions. Not much of a chance IMO.

Very true. The idea is to scout for where ambushes could come from ... not to scout to see if the area you are currently standing upon gets ambushed.

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Also, if you're in bocage country and your scouts need to look past the next row of bocage, your covering teams will only be able to cover the scouts up *until* they reach that far row of bocage -- once the scouts reach the far row of bocage, they will have only their own stealth (slow moves, pauses, hide commands) to protect them against any ambushes from the far side of that bocage row.

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Recon is an enjoyable and important part of the CM game. However, we now have a controversy over time limits, since to do recon well, you need more time than is usually allowed in CM scenarios.

I can only assume that it's the RT players who believe that some scenarios are too easy when the time limits are longer. But, for us WEGO players the new CW campaign missions in particular seem a bit too short.

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Recon is an enjoyable and important part of the CM game. However, we now have a controversy over time limits, since to do recon well, you need more time than is usually allowed in CM scenarios.

I can only assume that it's the RT players who believe that some scenarios are too easy when the time limits are longer. But, for us WEGO players the new CW campaign missions in particular seem a bit too short.

Agreed. I've started playing Real-Time just because there isn't enough time for regular scouting with the 60s turns. I'd rather be able to watch the playback in turn-based mode but not at the expense of being much more rushed.

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I can only assume that it's the RT players who believe that some scenarios are too easy when the time limits are longer. But, for us WEGO players the new CW campaign missions in particular seem a bit too short.

I play turn based exclusively, and I don't have any trouble of that sort. Recon is what happens before combat, and the results of that are given in the briefing. This is not Recon Mission!

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I find recon to be invaluable for locating enemy assets like ATG's and mortaring them, or armor and finding safe positions to prang them from.

The other question re the dedicated recon teams is are they better at it than a two man scout team split off from a squad?

For example, the Germans have a three man recon team all equipped with MP40's - which I think is rather a valuable unit re firepower. I'd prefer to lose two guys with rifles rather than 3 guys with SMG's. So, am tempted to hold em back for assault work.

Other than the fact that the recon teams have binoculars while the scout teams don't, are recon better at recon? And how much advantage are the binocs - esp in the close ranges of Normandy?

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I play turn based exclusively, and I don't have any trouble of that sort. Recon is what happens before combat, and the results of that are given in the briefing. This is not Recon Mission!

Perhaps a distinction needs to be made between recon and scouting.

Like Sergei says, recon happens before the mission (unless it is a specifically designed recon mission). Recon's purpose is to gather as much info on the enemy without getting into a firefight. The scenario designer has the option of allowing the player see enemy locations in the form of ? during the setup phase. This is a result of recon.

Scouting is different in that a team is sent out before the assault to draw fire which will hopefully give away enemy's positions. It is a quick and localized form of recon but doesn't give the player a full picture or give the player enough time to sit and analyze every contact. Basically put, the scout draws fire so that other units can return fire accurately, not necessarily to find the safest rout.

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I'm reminded of how infantry out on patrol tend to rotate their point man. Because if you're going to stumble on an enemy position its likely to be the guy up front of the column who finds 'em the hard way. Rotating who walks point decreases the odds that you're going to be that unfortunate first man across the field that one time.

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Recon's purpose is to gather as much info on the enemy without getting into a firefight.

If we are speaking of historical doctrine, that's true enough of the Allies, but less so of the German army. In the latter case, recon elements were expected to be able to test the strength of enemy dispositions by tangling with them and were usually armed on a scale to allow that and survive.

Michael

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In this movie it is demonstrated how an infantry squad could be employed as recon patrol:

At around 13 minutes you see how the squad approaches a suspected enemy position. The squad splits up and three men (including the squadleader) keep advancing towards the suspected position while the rest of the squad remains covered and concealed. The team approaching the position freezes after a few meters and pretends to have spotted enemies. They runs back into cover.

If the suspected enemy position was a real one, they might feel identified and open fire and reveal themselves. If nothing happens it is more likely that the area is clear of enemies.

This will hardly work against a human opponent in CM though.

Germans until 1940 had "Sicherer" (2-3 guys sent ahead to provide local security) inherent tac doctrine, but wartime experience probably showed that just 2-3 guys had the likely chance not to return altogether and tell of their "findings".

Thus minimum size had changed to full squad units, if encounter with the enemy was to be expected. The vid shows that a particular squad was chosen (unteroffizier/sergeant Berling and his squad) and not selected men put together, but surely depended upon particular task. Smaller reccon units (half squads/sections) surely were more oftenly sent to observe and not to fight. Ideally the more experienced and reliable NCOs/men would be chosen...if yet available (late war), but also depended upon judgement of the superior, sending the reccon guys.

In CMBB/AK I used small (unused) HQs for most reccon missions, but I haven´t experiemented much yet in CMBN. I´d like to see special reccon full squads (with radio and binocs) in the game. :)

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Bit of toying in the game editor. To assemble an examplary german reccon squad as shown in the video, one could take either an infantry platoon, delete 2nd and 3rd squad and make the 1st squad to have 70% headcount. This gives a broken up 10 men unit (HQ + split understrength squad) with one radio, two binocs and a lmg.

Alternatively one could also take an unused HQ (with subordinates deleted) and add/subordinate a LMG and Scout team from the specialists. Gives a squad size unit with 1 radio, two binocs and a lmg.

That would be for scenario design purposes, but one could also assemble such an adhoc reccon unit during any other game, not regarding C2 issues.

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...and we get into the doctrine aspects of recce units. US-centric view: any unit should be tasked to do so, it's a subse of combat skills. Go forth, find 'em, squawk about it.

German (WWII and beyond): it's a specialistic skill requiring a certain dash, elan, coupled with hard-headedness. It needs special vehicles. The job is to find the enemy, push him away, go around him, or defend against him.

That's pretty simplistic, and takes the view from the level of battalion missions. FWIW.

I think you need to specify the level of command you're discussing when trying to define the differences between scouting and recce.

In game, "you and you, run over to that hedge and tell me if the enemy's in that field" is a pretty standard scout task. It's about on par with another of my favorite scout tasks: "you and you, QUICK across that bocage gap and let us know if there are any landmines buried there." :)

(One of the CMSF (NATO?) missions was pretty cool. The designer had you sneak a few sniper teams around and airfield. If you got your guys onto their designated OP's (the objectives) without being seen, the next battle started you with a slew of intel. Nice job simulating pre-battle recce.)

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