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Russian Infantry Fragility


z1812
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CMBN players who are used to splitting their American squads might be in for a bit of a shock. Basically Russian squads were made splittable so you could 1) divide your units for tank riding, and 2) send out an occasional scout team forward to see what's over the next hill. Besides that Russian squad splitting comes with a penalty - and then some. :)

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Someone on this forum - I forget who, but thank you - suggested a re-think about squads and platoon usage when playing Soviets. Basically, if you're used to doing a job with e.g. a German squad, use a whole Soviet platoon for the same task. I've not had much experience yet with the Soviets and only against the AI however I'm finding that works pretty well. I keep platoons together pretty much and they do quite OK. I have not split a Soviet squad (yet).

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I've had no problems.

Of course, I also use the general soviet doctrine of "more is beter, and even more is even better" so I never use any singular unit to do my dirty work.

If I want to take an objective, I'll send at least two entire platoons to get it.

If I need to take out a german tank, I'll send at least five tanks to take it out.

Only time I have trouble is when I don't have the resources to do so. And that almost never happens (except in QB's) because numbers are the russians main strength.

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I have actually found my Soviet infantry to be quite resilient. I play them much differently than I would play Western infantry however.

The platoon is the minimum sized unit I use for any sort of offensive action. Three Soviet squads moving and fighting together in a relatively dense formation (a platoon generally maneuvers within a 50MX50M area) allows the platoon to perform attacks aggressively, safely, and successfully.

Regardless of the Soviet infantry type they will almost certainly have better close range firepower so the goal is to leapfrog the entire platoon towards the position. Using target light aggressively to keep enemy infantry pinned.

This style of fighting does make them very vulnerable to artillery and other HE, but it makes the Soviet infantry platoon a very dangerous and resilient unit. It will tend to not take losses due to the massive amount of suppressing fire that is being poured out, and when losses do accrue it still remains an effective fighting force that is unlikely to break. I've had platoons with 50% losses, with no remaining SLs or platoon commander, continue to be able to successfully take home an assault. However, at this point the attrition rate tends to increase dramatically as the individual squads begin to momentarily break more often and the overall amount of firepower drops off.

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I have actually found my Soviet infantry to be quite resilient. I play them much differently than I would play Western infantry however.

The platoon is the minimum sized unit I use for any sort of offensive action. Three Soviet squads moving and fighting together in a relatively dense formation (a platoon generally maneuvers within a 50MX50M area) allows the platoon to perform attacks aggressively, safely, and successfully.

Regardless of the Soviet infantry type they will almost certainly have better close range firepower so the goal is to leapfrog the entire platoon towards the position. Using target light aggressively to keep enemy infantry pinned.

This style of fighting does make them very vulnerable to artillery and other HE, but it makes the Soviet infantry platoon a very dangerous and resilient unit. It will tend to not take losses due to the massive amount of suppressing fire that is being poured out, and when losses do accrue it still remains an effective fighting force that is unlikely to break. I've had platoons with 50% losses, with no remaining SLs or platoon commander, continue to be able to successfully take home an assault. However, at this point the attrition rate tends to increase dramatically as the individual squads begin to momentarily break more often and the overall amount of firepower drops off.

Yeah, I still have to get used to losing 5-10 people in one hit whenever armour or arty shows up...

It's a jarring experience compared to CMBN/FI where I usually have my teams spread out and would suffer maby 2-3 casualties in an explosion.

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I would certainly agree that you cannot play the Soviet infantry in the same way as Western infantry. It is the Command Penalty that is important,

An alternative view to the 'send a platoon to do the job of a section' is to regard the Soviet section as being as strong as a Western section but with a limited working life. This reflects both the high fire power but limited ammunition supply especially of SMG sections. So lead with a section and the HQ behind it and then trailing along behind are the rest of the platoon, perhaps in cover. After the first stage of the attack, cycle through a fresh section for the next leap forward.

This gets round the HQ command penalty of the Soviets but allows you to spread out more and avoid artillery losses and spread you ammunition out for a longer time.

But then it makes a change that playing the Soviets is very different from the pretty similar Americans, British, Germans.

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I am playing the Soviets in QB's against the A.I. right now to get use to the system.

I purchase the units for each side to maintain some sense of balance and challenge. However my force size proportion is similar to what I would do for CMBN/FI.

What would be recommended for a reasonable but challenging force ratio.

Right now my force sizes are equal and playing the Soviets is interesting indeed.

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Just to put it in perspective, during Op Bagration the normal Soviet infantry company numbered 70 to 80 men. (L'vov Sandomiercz Soviet General Staff Study; edited by Glantz). They seemed to think that was pretty good, actually. ("A lot of the recruits were from recently liberated zones." )

Of that 70-80, about 30%-50% would be conscripts. 3 platoons divided into 75 men means about 25 men per platoon. 3 squads? Okay, 8 men per squad. Splitting gets pretty exciting after that, especially if 4 of your 8 are conscripts.

Soviet Battalion = Western Company (~250 men)

If the west would use a company to achieve a goal, well, if it takes 250 men, it takes 250 men. The late war Soviets would have to use a Battalion. (And to keep it balanced, recognize that many German Panzer divisions would be down to ~2 dozen tanks after a few days of combat. An entire Regiment would be a western company or so.)

A meatgrinder.

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I'm starting a large ME QB against a good player. I'm the Soviets. Should be interesting. I'm very accustomed to playing Germans, Americans and CW to a lesser degree and used to splitting my squads so looks like I'll need to adjust.

Also looks like you get little if anything in the way of infantry AT weapons if your the Red Army.

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Just to put it in perspective, during Op Bagration the normal Soviet infantry company numbered 70 to 80 men. (L'vov Sandomiercz Soviet General Staff Study; edited by Glantz). They seemed to think that was pretty good, actually. ("A lot of the recruits were from recently liberated zones." )

Of that 70-80, about 30%-50% would be conscripts. 3 platoons divided into 75 men means about 25 men per platoon. 3 squads? Okay, 8 men per squad. Splitting gets pretty exciting after that, especially if 4 of your 8 are conscripts.

Soviet Battalion = Western Company (~250 men)

If the west would use a company to achieve a goal, well, if it takes 250 men, it takes 250 men. The late war Soviets would have to use a Battalion. (And to keep it balanced, recognize that many German Panzer divisions would be down to ~2 dozen tanks after a few days of combat. An entire Regiment would be a western company or so.)

A meatgrinder.

That raises some questions for me about what RT is using as the starting point. Can someone please clarify this?

If I take a Soviet Guards rifle company "out of the box" in the scenario editor, is it going to have 100% of an "on paper" 1944 TO&E, or already be pre-shrunk to a typical real-world 75 men per company?

If I wanted to get that company to 75 men and 25 per platoon, would selecting "typical" affect the manning level compared to other settings?

The smallest the editor allows a unit to be is 50% of personnel, right? So to get any thinner than that, one would need to go within the company and start cutting structure, eliminating squads or sections.

To get the 30-50% conscripts, would selecting "typical" accomplish that? Or would one need to go squad by squad in the editor to reduce experience settings?

Please tell me the best adjustments to make to get from what's in the editor now, as a starting point, to the typical historical Soviet units that fought in Bagration.

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So far, playing with Soviet typical, regular rifle and tank-rider companies, I've been splitting and not finding things too bad (early days, though and against the AI).

Same here, but I've been playing with Guards units with strong leadership and morale bonuses. When I get to playing with normal rifle units, I anticipate needing to mass my forces to a much greater degree.

Michael

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That raises some questions for me about what RT is using as the starting point. Can someone please clarify this?

If I take a Soviet Guards rifle company "out of the box" in the scenario editor, is it going to have 100% of an "on paper" 1944 TO&E, or already be pre-shrunk to a typical real-world 75 men per company?

All the TO&E in the game is based on paper TO&E. This is true for all nations. The only broad exceptions are where TO&E calls for equipment at a time when it was not yet available. In the case of the Soviet rifle battalion, there are two paper TO&E orgs available: '43 and '44. The '43 TO&E (issued in late '42) remained "official" through the end of the war in Europe. The '44 TO&E is an official "reduced" TO&E issued in late '44 (and represents more of reduction in junior leadership than raw manpower), but it did not replace the '43 TO&E and it is unclear which units would have used it. However, it is probably a reasonable starting point for a reduced structure. Beyond that, there were no typical or standard reduced TO&E or strengths. Each front issued its own reduced TO&Es as needed. It is up to the scenario designer to apply headcount reductions and units deletions to either the '43 or '44 org to arrive at a reduced TO&E for a particular unit at a particular point in time.

If I wanted to get that company to 75 men and 25 per platoon, would selecting "typical" affect the manning level compared to other settings?

The quality setting under the formations drop down effects the equipment option settings for the formation, and "excellent" simply means the latest equipment (which in fact is not always the highest quality). It has no effect on TO&E structures, soft factors or manning levels. For example, an "excellent" Soviet rifle battalion gets you SG43 MMGs and 57mm ATGs, a "poor" one M1910 MMGs and 45mm ATGs. The "typical" setting typically gets you something in between.

The smallest the editor allows a unit to be is 50% of personnel, right? So to get any thinner than that, one would need to go within the company and start cutting structure, eliminating squads or sections.

Yup, which is exactly what happened in reality. You would not have an intact battalion structure full of squads at 30% strength.

To get the 30-50% conscripts, would selecting "typical" accomplish that? Or would one need to go squad by squad in the editor to reduce experience settings?

Again, that setting only effects equipment options.

Please tell me the best adjustments to make to get from what's in the editor now, as a starting point, to the typical historical Soviet units that fought in Bagration.

I would delve into the particulars of the unit you are trying to portray at a given point in time. Undoubtedly someone will provide you a "typical" unit, but it probably be more an average of units than a "typical" unit.

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Some quick comments:

1. From a code standpoint there is nothing different about Soviet infantry than any other infantry of any other nation (excepting split Squads). All Soviet weapons are simulated with the same attention to detail a all other weapons. The organization is also done to the same degree of attention/accuracy as with other nations. Which means if Soviet infantry isn't performing up to expectations it is the expectations that are the source of the "error".

2. A successful military organization (and the Soviets definitely are successful by 1944) combines organization, weapons, and doctrine together to create something that is realistically balanced. CM can only impose organization and weapons on the player, which means doctrine is the responsibility of the player to learn and utilize. Wrong tactics for a particular unit, no matter what unit of what nation we're talking about, for a particular tactical situation, no matter what the situation is, has a much better chance of yielding a bad result.

3. When playing the Soviets, one needs to redefine what a "bad result" is :D No matter how much someone admires the Soviet military, trying to argue that the Soviets placed the same value on individual Human life than other militaries will get you laughed out of any serious minded discussion venue. Therefore, as commander of the Soviet forces you need to adopt a mentality equal to that of a real Soviet commander, not a German or Allied commander, and certainly not an enlightened 21st century military commander. If you are in command of Soviet forces, you should take for granted that you will have higher losses than you would if you were commanding German or Allied forces. Likewise, when you play the Germans you shouldn't adopt a mentality of "I took out more of his forces than I could ever withstand, therefore I'm sure I've won the battle".

4. As AKD said, TO&E in the game is always 100% full paper strength. That's true for all nations. However, we do make some adjustments when there is historical arguments for them. Those are definite exceptions, though, and we usually provide alternative TO&E alongside the official type. We also generally have older types overlapping with newer types to the extent they seemed to overlap in real life.

Steve

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Some quick comments:

Therefore, as commander of the Soviet forces you need to adopt a mentality equal to that of a real Soviet commander, not a German or Allied commander, and certainly not an enlightened 21st century military commander. If you are in command of Soviet forces, you should take for granted that you will have higher losses than you would if you were commanding German or Allied forces.

Steve

Easier said than done. I am having some adjustment issues.

I love my pixel comrades! :)

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Is that "on paper" establishment strength, or the practical strength given casualty and replacement rates?

That was the buffed up strength achieved during the buildup just before the operation kicked off. 70 to 80 is the number reached by sweeping up every able-bodied man in the rear areas (civilians), getting normal army replacements and convalescents, and new units from the army training program.

These replacements "swelled" the ranks to the number of 70-80 per company.

You can understand why Soviet offensives ran out of steam after a few days and whole new echelons had to be introduced into the battle.

(Same for the Germans: that's why their vaunted counter-attacks never got anywhere. When an entire panzer division has 18 tanks and loses 12 in one attack, that loss negates it from taking a meaningful part in any future part of the battle.)

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If the west would use a company to achieve a goal, well, if it takes 250 men, it takes 250 men. The late war Soviets would have to use a Battalion. (And to keep it balanced, recognize that many German Panzer divisions would be down to ~2 dozen tanks after a few days of combat. An entire Regiment would be a western company or so.)

A meatgrinder.

So (and please understand this is not a pointed question, just trying to clarify) you are saying that the old rule of thumb that you would send a Soviet unit one size up (say a company instead of a platoon) from an equivalent western force to do any given job was based on TO&E of heavily attrited forces rather than any tendancy to send more men to complete the job than the western allies would?

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It's all very well having c3k-esque disregard for the wellbeing of your pTruppen, but I find that if I'm not solicitous of their welfare, they stop being capable of doing anything very much at all. Losing 10 men out of a platoon from one shell burst would pretty much leave them shaking in their boots and unwilling to advance on active enemy... How do you keep the Russians going in the face of these casualties?

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The Russians seem to lack squad weapon support, either as doctrine or in-game, cause those stalin record players suck. I have to micro the guys with them to get them to be aggressive, and, well they don't carry much ammo compared to their MG34 counter part jockeys. I think that's where the perceived weak Russian squad firepower may be coming from.

OTOH the smg squads, once they do get close, will tramp over a fixed position, but its only by terrain or shear numbers that allows them to get close to do that.

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