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A command I would like to see: target carefully


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This has probably been mentioned by other people numerous times in the past, so forgive me if that's the case. But one command I would like to see in future CMx2 games (and patches to current ones, hopefully!) is the ability to order units to more carefully target units.

The issue is that even when I have the drop on an enemy in the open at longer ranges, when giving a "target" order, the units (be they tanks, infantry, or emplaced weapons) seem to take only a few seconds to fire, and so botch their first shots too frequently, ruining the element of surprise and giving my opponent time to dive for cover or return fire.

I feel that in reality, units in this situation (not spotted by their opponents who are exposed, and waiting to engage, e.g. ambushing) would likely take the time to estimate the range and dial this in more accurately with their sights. Tanks and ATGs especially suffer from this, in that if they miss their first shot, their opponent tank or ATG often has time to blast them reciprocally; something I don't imagine crews in real-life wanted to risk happening, if they had the choice.

The functional difference between "Target" and "Target Carefully" (TC from now on) would be that TC would take an exponentially longer time to happen, especially at longer ranges (say 500+m for riflemen, 1.5km+ for medium tank guns/ATGs), as well as needing to be specifically ordered. Whereas Target usually takes only a few seconds at most and happens naturally, a specific TC order could take up to 15-30 seconds for more difficult shots. While no amount of aiming is ever a sure bet, the benefit would be an increased overall ambush lethality for these units, and specifically increasing the efficiency of marksmen (which in my opinion are currently of little utility) or well concealed ATGs and AFVs. There could even be an ancillary function of targeting officers first, when it is a unit equipped with long-range optics that is ordered to do it. But maybe that's getting too complicated.

This would not be a viable command during active combat, as the act of being fired upon would naturally disrupt a units ability to carefully and methodically aim their shots.

Thoughts?

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At least part of "careful aiming" would require the infantry elements to fill out range cards, tanks to discover ranges by mg fire, et cetera. These processes are represented by a TRP only barely covered by a cover arc. Of course, if the map maker neglects to give your infantry any TRPs, he's assuming your soldiers have only barely beaten their opposites to the battlefield. They are essentially meeting instead of defending and have no time to do more than find good cover.

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I don't think soldiers are being less accurate with a simple targeting command than they would be with some sort of Target Carefully order. Units firing from ambush have the benefit of not being suppressed, so their fire is about as accurate as it's going to get given the limitations of skill, training, and human eyeballs.

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I don't think soldiers are being less accurate with a simple targeting command than they would be with some sort of Target Carefully order. Units firing from ambush have the benefit of not being suppressed, so their fire is about as accurate as it's going to get given the limitations of skill, training, and human eyeballs.

Surely however there would be a difference in accuracy if a unit is given 20 seconds to carefully estimate range, rather than being expected to fire after only a couple seconds of notice. Anyone who's ever used a gun before knows there would be a significant difference in that situation, even if only eyes (and potentially maps and binoculars) were used to estimate range, and target reference points aren't available.

Obviously units can still miss in these situations, but I think to assume there wouldn't be any difference is kind of ridiculous. There is certainly a difference between reactionary fire and planned fire.

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The issue is that even when I have the drop on an enemy in the open at longer ranges, when giving a "target" order, the units (be they tanks, infantry, or emplaced weapons) seem to take only a few seconds to fire, and so botch their first shots too frequently, ruining the element of surprise and giving my opponent time to dive for cover or return fire.

Thoughts?

My thoughts: you don't want human troops. You want automatons.

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My thoughts: you don't want human troops. You want automatons.

That's a pretty unfair implication. Are you implying that troops in war are never ordered to fire carefully? Why would infantry weapons, specifically MGs and rifles, have sights that can be carefully dialed to specific ranges, if troops weren't expected to ever use them? I'm aware most infantry engagements in WW2 took place at under 150m or whatever that statistic was, but they're clearly there for a reason.

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Surely however there would be a difference in accuracy if a unit is given 20 seconds to carefully estimate range, rather than being expected to fire after only a couple seconds of notice. Anyone who's ever used a gun before knows there would be a significant difference in that situation, even if only eyes (and potentially maps and binoculars) were used to estimate range, and target reference points aren't available.

Obviously units can still miss in these situations, but I think to assume there wouldn't be any difference is kind of ridiculous. There is certainly a difference between reactionary fire and planned fire.

I think units are lining up shots and judging range from the moment they spot the enemy, not just from the moment they're given a target order. There are usually several full seconds involved before the shooting starts, and I take this to be the amount of time trained soldiers with WW2 equipment would need to get about as good a shot as they're going to get.

It's different for sharpshooters, of course, but then that's their job, and they do take longer between shots in the game. The basic fact is that the basic infantryman is not a sharpshooter.

I actually don't know, btw, whether the game already models a first-shot accuracy bonus or not.

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That's a pretty unfair implication. Are you implying that troops in war are never ordered to fire carefully? Why would infantry weapons, specifically MGs and rifles, have sights that can be carefully dialed to specific ranges, if troops weren't expected to ever use them? I'm aware most infantry engagements in WW2 took place at under 150m or whatever that statistic was, but they're clearly there for a reason.

Pre sighting MG's on tripods included range cards, actual pre sighting (stakes) and even ranging shoots. Not just fiddle with knobs for 20 seconds before having a crack.

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I think this command is not needed. Why, because you could command target carefully to green troops but that does not mean they will or can(physically).

Fear,etc.

Crack troops in my experience have greater accuracy and so they should.And in my game experience do target more accurate.

A leader who commands "Aim true men" while inspiring does not guarantee they can or will.

Cheers

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I think units are lining up shots and judging range from the moment they spot the enemy, not just from the moment they're given a target order. There are usually several full seconds involved before the shooting starts, and I take this to be the amount of time trained soldiers with WW2 equipment would need to get about as good a shot as they're going to get.

It's different for sharpshooters, of course, but then that's their job, and they do take longer between shots in the game. The basic fact is that the basic infantryman is not a sharpshooter.

I actually don't know, btw, whether the game already models a first-shot accuracy bonus or not.

I'm not expecting perfect accuracy at 800m from an untrained rifleman, but give anyone ample time to coordinate with their squad and estimate range and there would naturally be dividends in accuracy over merely firing on a few quick seconds of guesswork.

Pre sighting MG's on tripods included range cards, actual pre sighting (stakes) and even ranging shoots. Not just fiddle with knobs for 20 seconds before having a crack.

You are presenting a false dichotomy, there is certainly a "middle ground" between firing using target reference points, and firing after only taking a couple seconds to guess how far the enemy is. Weapons that are carefully dialed to an estimated range are still certainly more effective than a weapon that is merely shouldered and fired on a seconds notice.

I think this command is not needed. Why, because you could command target carefully to green troops but that does not mean they will or can(physically).

Fear,etc.

Crack troops in my experience have greater accuracy and so they should.And in my game experience do target more accurate.

A leader who commands "Aim true men" while inspiring does not guarantee they can or will.

Cheers

That green troops would not be able to aim or estimate target distance as efficiently as crack ones would be easily modeled by having them gain less accuracy from planned fire. It's not like by implementing this command that somehow all units would need to have the same accuracy after preparing to shoot.

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I always thought that the manual said that "TARGET LIGHT for infantry at least was "aiming carefully" while TARGET was more high volume suppressive fire

If this is true then I stand corrected. I've personally never used target light, except when trying to keep troops from wasting bazooka rockets and such.

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Pre sighting MG's on tripods included range cards, actual pre sighting (stakes) and even ranging shoots. Not just fiddle with knobs for 20 seconds before having a crack.

True. When I was a soldier in Germany (1988 not WW2) we did the same thing

with our M60 machine guns when I was in the field.(I hated FTX's btw. camo nets were a pain in the you know what)

Artillery has concentrations and registrations pre-plotted.

I seem to remember a rule in ASL about "Boresighting" for direct fire weapons.

Maybe that would address his concerns ?

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You are presenting a false dichotomy, there is certainly a "middle ground" between firing using target reference points, and firing after only taking a couple seconds to guess how far the enemy is. Weapons that are carefully dialed to an estimated range are still certainly more effective than a weapon that is merely shouldered and fired on a seconds notice.

You might need to read up on the British experience during Normandy when the battle schools : Down-crawl-Observe-fire sequence was found to be hopelessly inadequate when confronted with contemporary combat where the enemy was not observable. All the training on accurate marksmanship had to be combatted by front line officers and NCO arguing that rifle men fire for suppressive effect. Careful aim was less worthwhile than suppression which is why nowadays sights are zeroed on ranges, because knob fiddling with ones sight is actually detrimental to winning fire fights and suppressing the enemy.

The Commonwealth with it's institutional memory of the failures in the boer war placed a premium on rifle marksmanship on small cadres of professional regts, this is not extent in the German or Russian later soviet military based on Levée en masse were the last innovation for the K98 was shortening it into a carbine so it was easier for the presumed use of shooting from the hip with a bolt action rifle.

If the UK had to actually attempt to disincline "tommy" from marksmanship derived drills a continental europeans war, why do you think it's credible that either the lMG based Germans or the increasingly SMG based Soviets bothered teaching their conscripts to knob fiddle for 20 seconds as opposed to just put rounds down range to suppress the targets and hopefully hit them based on automatic fire?

There's a reason why rifle men in a infantry battalion range zero at a single distance, and are not really taught to battlefield zero unless your a qualified range NCO, it's concluded after an entire century of gunpowder conflict to be a bit of a waste of time. Range at 100m shoot that even at 300m.

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You might need to read up on the British experience during Normandy when the battle schools : Down-crawl-Observe-fire sequence was found to be hopelessly inadequate when confronted with contemporary combat where the enemy was not observable.

Which has nothing to do with the situations I am discussing, where the enemy is clearly observable and unaware of the ambushing forces presence.

I'm omitting the rest because it clearly pertains to active combat scenarios, likely at close to intermediate distance, where the opposing force is equally aware of your position as you are of theirs, and not to longer ranged ambushes which is where carefully aimed initial fire is its most useful, especially in the era of bolt-action rifles.

In your opinion, and without citing texts that have little to do with the situation I'm describing, do you really think a unit is better suited firing rapidly and with limited marksmanship on a target that is at the farther end of their effective range and clearly unaware of their presence, than they are taking the modicum of time (but more than 3 seconds) necessary to make their opening volley accurate (which, considering the enemy is not yet looking for cover, can easily be the most crucial) by carefully estimating their range.

The former just seems too wildly counter-intuitive and illogical, I cannot see any advantages to it.

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Sounds to me more of a 'Do Not Fire Unless Fired Upon' selector in the command menu, which personally I'd love. Would make recon a lot easier. You can place small cover arcs but that also causes some problems in my experience (WeGo). Good example would be along the lines of discovered enemies falling just outside your cover arc and are an obvious threat - your troops sit there and brew a tea while the enemy eventually spots you and gets the first shots off, with your guys clinging to their cover arc orders as they cower in the dirt fully pinned.

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Sounds to me more of a 'Do Not Fire Unless Fired Upon' selector in the command menu, which personally I'd love. Would make recon a lot easier. You can place small cover arcs but that also causes some problems in my experience (WeGo). Good example would be along the lines of discovered enemies falling just outside your cover arc and are an obvious threat - your troops sit there and brew a tea while the enemy eventually spots you and gets the first shots off, with your guys clinging to their cover arc orders as they cower in the dirt fully pinned.

That's a good idea, but what I'm referring to is more the opposite, really. Basically I'm referring to a command where the unit in question is in position to ambush an unaware enemy at longer ranges, and aims their first volley more carefully, to maximize casualties on the enemy unit before they are combat aware and begin to seek cover, rather than simply firing quickly and suppressively (but consequently with less accuracy) as they do now.

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There's a reason why rifle men in a infantry battalion range zero at a single distance, and are not really taught to battlefield zero unless your a qualified range NCO, it's concluded after an entire century of gunpowder conflict to be a bit of a waste of time. Range at 100m shoot that even at 300m.

Indeed, and that's why, for instance, the wartime Lee-Enfield No.4. Mk.I*s dispensed with ladder sights and replaced them with a peep sight that could be flipped between 300 and 600 yards and nothing else. Knob-fiddling was (and is) for troops with scoped weapons.

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'Aim carefully' seems a strange one to ask for - I always assumed my guys aimed as carefully as their skill level and combat conditions allowed. This seems super gamey to be honest and not very realistic. The type of situation where crack skilled troups have completely ambushed an enemy force and have the time and nerve to wait till they are absolutely sure they have them in perfect range and in a maximum killing zone.

For a a more 'realistic' feel to a WW2 fire fight how about we implement something that covers this kind of thing :

S.L.A. Marshall's work on infantry combat effectiveness in World War II, titled Men Against Fire, is his best-known and most controversial work. In the book, Marshall claimed that of the World War II U.S. troops in actual combat, 75% never fired at the enemy for the purpose of killing, even though they were engaged in combat and under direct threat. Marshall argued that the Army should devote significant training resources to increasing the percentage of soldiers willing to engage the enemy with direct fire.

Only joking but it makes more sense in my mind than an 'aim carefully' command. Not only were most guys not aiming carefully - they weren't aiming at all.

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Morale state will have a huge impact on accuracy, IMO, in game.

As an aside, during the blackpowder days, the commander would order the regiment which distance to sight at and what aimpoint to use. For example, "300 yards! Aim at their feet! Ready...Fire!" (That would be useful if the enemy were closer than 300 yards.) It was a bit of skill to estimate the range, the sight, and the aimpoint, and then time the order so the volley fired at the right time. (Anyone who's ever used voice commands for several hundred at once in a parade ground environment will understand the difficulties involved...)

Careful aim? How much incoming, how tired, how many quarts of adrenaline have I used up already?

Ken

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S.L.A. Marshall's work

SLAM's work has received a bit of criticism* over the last decade or so, but despite that his conclusions and recommendations seem to have been reasonably sound, even if only by accident.

Have you seen this before? Wigram ran the first Battle Schools in the UK before shoving off to Sicily to command a battalion. He was KIA there, but left quite a legacy, including that letter. The key section, as far as this discussion goes, is I think this bit:

The battle goes something like this:-

Enemy MGs open fire, the whole Pl lie down except the Pl Comd and three or four gutful men. Five or six men start making tracks for home, meanwhile the gutful men under the Pl Comd dash straight in to the enemy position without any covering fire and always succeed in taking the position. In some instances some positions are taken by as few as two men, and every Bn Comd will confirm that it is always the same group of nine or ten who are there first, and on whom the battle depends.

I have personally seen this method of attack used in all, except one, of the battles in which I took part, and this explains one of the mysteries I have never been able to solve before - that is the saying of many experienced soldiers that 'you must never allow men to lie down in a battle'.

This method of attack is peculiarly British and from the point of view of sheer courage it really has no equal. I am convinced however that we can find other and better methods, and I make the following observations:

(i) Some Comds say that this method is successful with few casualties. This is true if you speak of casualties in quantity, but it is far from true if you speak of casualties in quality. The Pl in action is almost invariably twenty-two strong and of whatever Regt good or bad, every Pl can be analysed as follows: Six gutful men who will go anywhere and do anything, 12 `sheep' who will follow a short distance behind if they are well led, 5-6 who will run away. I have discussed these figures with many people and they all agree, although there is some slight disagreement on figures. These figures are roughly accurate as shown by the number of Court-Martials for running away that follow every Campaign. Every Bn has between forty to sixty and there are, of course, many others who aren't caught.

Looking at these figures it will be seen that the group from which casualties cannot be spared is the gutful group, yet I would say that casualties in this group are often 100 per cent per month. We must find a method of fighting which is more economical.

(ii) Battle Drill or Fire and Movement is Not applied because in its present form it is too complicated, and it presupposes that when a Section is told to do a thing that it will do it whilst in actual fact, as the above Pl figures show, they will probably do little or nothing.

That'd make for a boring and frustrating game though :D

Jon

* That article has been rather weirdly redacted. Engen's thesis, which covers the same ground in a lot more detail, is here.

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