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db_zero

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I once heard a joke that there are 2 things you'll never find in a foxhole. Athesists and anyone above the rank of captain. How do you like to use your HQ units? Generally I have platoon HQs trailing slightly behind squads. Company HQs and other higher HQ's I generally keep further back. I've heard that in the Israeli army leaders are encouraged to lead from the front.

 

I don't know if the US Army or Marines have a procedure, unwritten rule or doctrine about where a leader should be when the bullets start flying, I would guess it also depends on the rank and role the leader plays. I know some players are very aggressive with their leaders and use them upfront. I'm curous as to whether the Army and Marines frown on company commanders and higher from being right up in the front line and exposing themselves to enemy fire.

 

I'm guessing with modern command and control systems there is neither the need or if its wise for Captains, Majors and above to be upfront and they can better manage from a TOC...

 

It would also be interesting to see how the Russian and Ukranian armry deal with tis too.

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i like to use my HQ teams at least as the US to fill in blind spots in my FO coverage or provide a wide view over the area in front of their troops this way if they spot stuff they will relay it to them, so i kinda use them as make shift scouts and FO's 

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Ditto, I've used HQ teams to request fire or CAS when my JTAC is busy, at least while playing the US. Their lag time is slower than the JTAC, but it's still faster than waiting for the JTAC to finish what he's doing and then do another mission when I can have a leader start the same mission several minutes before the JTAC will be able to get to it.

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By doctrine at least in the modern US Army, you will find Lieutenants leading platoons, Captains leading companies, and Lieutenant Colonels leading battalions. You can go one down with rank if you have the Executive Officer in charge of a company or battalion, or in a platoon you might see a Sergeant First Class leading if they don't have enough officers.You will find them leading from the front up to battalion level, although you probably wouldn't see the company commander or battalion commander running point in an assault. They would be co-located with one of the elements (probably not an assault or breaching element in most cases) and that would be specified in the operations order.

 

Unless you are going to include battalion or brigade command post elements & staffs in a scenario, you probably won't see a lot of Majors leading units unless the XO is in charge of a battalion or a new battalion commander Major hasn't been promoted to LTC yet. Most of your staff guys at the battalion level are Captains with a Major or senior Captain as an operations officer, and at the brigade level staff you have a lot more Majors and now some Lieutenant Colonels on the staff. It's not that staff guys are cowards any more than anyone else can be a coward, it's just not their job to be out "in a foxhole". If I'm a battalion or brigade commander, I want my logistics officer back in the TOC getting me more ammo, not out in a foxhole with a rifle.

 

Most armies today have similar structure, although it varies by army to the level of initiative encouraged at each level. Most western all-volunteer armies encourage leadership initiative at the lowest level and their training and doctrine embrace that concept. Some former Warsaw Pact armies are working towards that goal. I spent a year with the Hungarian Defense Forces in Afghanistan, and I can tell you I was very surprised at the fact that their NCO's weren't used to having a voice when it came to operations. They were used to doing what they were told by their officers and were not used to taking charge of tactical situations. They were very good soldiers, it just wasn't in their doctrine or training for young NCO's to take charge if the lieutenant was there.

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Having carried the bastard's radio and driven his jeep, (before you were born) I can state with absolute certainty that in U.S. Army, Back In The Day, all field officer ranks were expected to inhabit foxholes. They are not (and were not) called foxholes, they were called "positions". They haven't been foxholes since Korea. But I digress.

 

However, we dug them for said officers.

 

There is the chain, and there is everyone else. If you're in the chain, and you're not in a position, you're asking for a frag.

 

No one cares where anyone else is, there's a reason they're not in the chain.

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When I was a Company Commander, I usually stuck my tank with whatever element needed either the support (least experience platoon leader), or was the main effort.  I'd have done the same thing in combat, basically it's a matter of putting yourself where you imagine you will be most needed.  I put the XO either with the trains, or if it was a split operation like one of the platoons was going to be setting an attack by fire from a position a few KMs from where the rest of the company was, I'd spin him off to help keep an eye on those guys.  

 

Basically it helped to have someone on the ground who was making sure the various subordinate units were all dancing to the Company set of music.  

 

In CMBS I tend to follow the same pattern with where I stick the Commander and the XO.  When it's a AFV type unit (tanks or brads) I tend to push the vehicles forward with the platoons (but not the lead vehicle).  Dismounted is usually the same pattern, although I'm not as aggressive pushing those teams as their firepower isn't a major contributor to the fight.  Platoon leadership is always right with the rest of the platoon though.

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I don't know about now, but when I was active and in the reserves, company grade officers were on the front with the grunts. In fact, officers and staff NCOs weren't even issued rifles because if you had a rifle, you tended to get involved in the fighting instead of directing the fire and maneuver. Of course, every Marine could be pretty sure that the one without the rifle is an officer, senior NCO, or weapons crew, so that is the one he tries to take out first. Suffice it to say that, as a rifle platoon sergeant, the first thing I did was to check out a rifle.

 

In another post, I related an experience when I was asked by a PFC if it was true that the life expectancy of a Marine is very short. I replied "Yes, the average live expectancy of a Marine infantryman from the time he hits the beach is about 3 and 1/2 minutes." He decided to be wise and asked what the life expectancy of a staff NCO was. I replied "The life expectancy of an officer or staff NCO from the time we leave the ship until we almost reach the beach is ...." Marine leaders lead from the front. For those who are not aware, the red strip on the trousers of our officer and NCO dress blues is called the "blood stripe." Marine officers and NCO earned the blood stripe during the war with Mexico in 1840. Army General Scott needed a citadel name Chapultepec taken. The citadel was manned by Mexican Army cadets, sort of like West Point. After a number of attempts by soldiers to take the citadel failed, he ordered the Marines who were with his artillery to take citadel. The Marines took the citadel, but lost 3/4 of their officers and NCOs in the battle. Nonrated Marine casualties were about 25 to 30 percent. Marine officers and NCOs wear the blood stripe in honor of those officers and NCOs, and to honor the cadets who fought with such great honor, bravery, and skill.

 

We have a long tradition of leading from the front.

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Marine officers and NCO earned the blood stripe during the war with Mexico in 1840. Army General Scott needed a citadel name Chapultepec taken. The citadel was manned by Mexican Army cadets, sort of like West Point. After a number of attempts by soldiers to take the citadel failed, he ordered the Marines who were with his artillery to take citadel. The Marines took the citadel, but lost 3/4 of their officers and NCOs in the battle. Nonrated Marine casualties were about 25 to 30 percent. Marine officers and NCOs wear the blood stripe in honor of those officers and NCOs, and to honor the cadets who fought with such great honor, bravery, and skill.

 

This is actually not what happened.  The Marines participated, but the assault elements were chiefly Army.  The Marine element got well shot up, but its efforts were simultaneous to the Army elements.  The actual breach was carried out by what would become the 3rd Cavalry Regiment (and where their "Brave Rifles" motto comes from), and the fort ultimately fell to a mix of US Army regulars and various state militia forces (the forces Chapultepec's defenders surrendered to were actually a regiment of volunteers from New York).  

 

Just a pet peeve of mine.  Historical accuracy is important, and airbrushing out the majority of combatants to fit one branch's mythology is not accurate or respectful at all.  

 

Re: Rifles vs pistols

 

Anyone company grade and down at least on paper had a rifle.  Officers tend to get pistols too, as do some specialist types (medics, sometimes MMG operators), but the folks who tend to have pistols as their "primary" weapons were vehicle crewmen.  I think some folks echelons above reality were only MTOEd pistols too, but even our Battalion level field grades had rifles.

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In game terms, what advantage is there in keeping the platoons tight, with the HQ section staying within LOS of section elements? CMx1 had those magic red lines, clearly defining command zones which had clear effects on morale and communication, with coy and btn HQ elements used to plug the holes for knocked out platoon HQ teams. With CMx2 everything seems  a bit vague in that regard - do HQ units need LOS since everyone should have a walkie talkie at the very least with ranges covering the whole map? What is the purpose of higher HQ units besides ad hoc FOs?  How close do platoon leaders have to be to their sections if there are any morale benefits? Can units from different platoons share backpack radios if they are close to  each other and have 1 set between them (e.g., a scout team with no radio sharing a building with a battered infantry section which has a radio)? 

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 CMx1 had those magic red lines, clearly defining command zones which had clear effects on morale and communication, with coy and btn HQ elements used to plug the holes for knocked out platoon HQ teams.

 

CMx2 has these lines, too. Since v3 IIRC

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I put the XO either with the trains...

As a non-professional, am I right in thinking you mean the logistics trains (i.e. out of the actual fire)? Or is it something else?

...if it was a split operation like one of the platoons was going to be setting an attack by fire from a position a few KMs from where the rest of the company was, I'd spin him off to help keep an eye on those guys...

Oh, I'm glad to hear you say that. It's first person confirmation of one of the roles of the XO that I thought I'd gathered from reading, which CM doesn't model: being a proxy for the Company CO. Well, it doesn't model it until the Company CO is hors de combat at least.

 

In game terms, what advantage is there in keeping the platoons tight, with the HQ section staying within LOS of section elements?

It's not as cut-and-dried as "within LOS". You have close and distant LOS, and audible range. Plus radio contact on top. The advantage is that your platoon deals with adversity better. Mostly in terms of morale, in that they'll react less badly to casualties and protracted suppression, and will rally faster, but also in terms of situational awareness, in that an intact C3 network will pass spotting information down to the fireteams more quickly, giving them an advantage when trying to acquire the hostile for themselves. Similar advantages pertain to troops which are out of C3 range of their immediate HQ, but are close to (i.e. in "audible" and/or "close visual" range of) a superior HQ in their CoC.

CMx1 had those magic red lines...

As does CMx3, since v3 of the engine came out with Red Thunder. Have a look at the hotkey menu to find how to turn them on.

...do HQ units need LOS since everyone should have a walkie talkie at the very least...

Nope you don't need LOS if you have a radio link. The positive effects of the C3 chain are reduced by the "remoteness" of the link, though. Having your Looie encouraging you via radio is not nearly as motivating as having the pup exhorting you from where you can see and hear him. And having your Battalion Old Man trying to buck you up via radio isn't going to have very much effect at all, at the pointy end (none, in the CM model).

What is the purpose of higher HQ units besides ad hoc FOs?

They can stand in for absent or dead lower HQ units in their CoC, if they're in close contact. I don't know that it'll give you a command line in this case though; it might. Try it and see.

How close do platoon leaders have to be to their sections if there are any morale benefits?

"Distant Visual" is very liberal, if the seeing is good. But it gives the least benefit. Close visual is maybe 100m, subject to concealment. Audible is about 35-40m.

Can units from different platoons share backpack radios if they are close to  each other and have 1 set between them (e.g., a scout team with no radio sharing a building with a battered infantry section which has a radio)?

Not to gain C3 morale benefits, no. But the adjacent elements will share spotting information readily, and the one with the radio will send it up the chain.
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Let me throw my oar in. I usually keep my Ptl/Coy HQ elements just behind the front units, and in front of the rear most unit (assuming travelling two up, one back). That way, they do not get pinned down with the front units when contact is made, and can do what they are supposed to do: go forward to check out the situation, range where they need to to work out what to do, and keep their heads up and out of the immediate fight. If you keep them just back a bit, they have the freedom to range where they want to... Works pretty well I find.

Apoll

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I've done all of the above in the past in the WW2 titles. I also have seen some Lieutenant colonel and I'm sure full birds in Normandy and Market Garden. No generals...I'm sure the same would hold true in Black Sea.

 

There are no ranks above Lt. Colonel in any of the CM titles.

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When I was a Company Commander, I usually stuck my tank with whatever element needed either the support (least experience platoon leader), or was the main effort.  I'd have done the same thing in combat, basically it's a matter of putting yourself where you imagine you will be most needed.  I put the XO either with the trains, or if it was a split operation like one of the platoons was going to be setting an attack by fire from a position a few KMs from where the rest of the company was, I'd spin him off to help keep an eye on those guys.  

 

Basically it helped to have someone on the ground who was making sure the various subordinate units were all dancing to the Company set of music.  

 

In CMBS I tend to follow the same pattern with where I stick the Commander and the XO.  When it's a AFV type unit (tanks or brads) I tend to push the vehicles forward with the platoons (but not the lead vehicle).  Dismounted is usually the same pattern, although I'm not as aggressive pushing those teams as their firepower isn't a major contributor to the fight.  Platoon leadership is always right with the rest of the platoon though.

 

Sounds fair enough to me. CM takes command & control into account. And it takes leadership abilities of our unit commanders ito consideration. While I have not looked to closely under the bonnet these factors are likely to have some significant impact (delay i implementing orders, ability to rally units in poor morale and soon)

 

So what Panzersaurkrautwerfer says here makes a lot of sense to me. Supposing he had a n inexperienced platoon leader holding his first command after officer training. (say a 0 or -1 rated officer)  Panzersaurkrautwerfer as an experienced company commander would probably want to kee a closer eye on that inddividual while he is learning his trade. And there might well be other factors involved as well such as the tactical situation

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As a non-professional, am I right in thinking you mean the logistics trains (i.e. out of the actual fire)? Or is it something else?

 

Yeah.  I had a tank company, so we had an attached maintenance team in an M88A2+some varity of trucks (usually a HMMWV with a small tool shed, or for more deliberate operations a HEMMIT type vehicle with a sort of palletized mechanic's shop), an ambulance M113, the 1SG's M113, some number of HMMWVs (we had three which wasn't MTOE, but they'd carry people like our CBRN NCO, and other HQ dudes), and a cargo truck (although in tactical situations this truck lived with the Battalion's logistics assets, and would basically carry any supplies that weren't food, ammo, or fuel to use during resupply).

 

In a situation in which I was worried about all those things, having the XO there to manage them (as those HQ things are things he's usually the functional platoon leader of), and ride shotgun on it in his tank made some sense (especially if I had to evacuate casualties or a damaged tank under fire).

 

However in a more complex operation it's better assuming risk, or that the HQ/logistics guys are secure enough behind friendly lines, and bringing him forward to ride shotgun on part of the operation is useful.  Also if I buy it, he's the next in command so having him on hand to do so is not the least intelligent thing to do.

 

 

 

Oh, I'm glad to hear you say that. It's first person confirmation of one of the roles of the XO that I thought I'd gathered from reading, which CM doesn't model: being a proxy for the Company CO. Well, it doesn't model it until the Company CO is hors de combat at least

 

Was pretty sure this was the case, but it's sort of a matter of if I've got 14 tanks, there's a place I habitually put my XO, so I'm going to keep doing that.  Also if it's a platoon off by itself having five instead of four tanks is nice too.  Additionally for the US, while all units can spot for artillery, the CO, and XO can both spot for aviation too, so it's a way of allowing a detached element to call for aviation while not taking the FIST team away from the main effort.

 

 

 

Supposing he had a n inexperienced platoon leader holding his first command after officer training. (say a 0 or -1 rated officer)  Panzersaurkrautwerfer as an experienced company commander would probably want to kee a closer eye on that inddividual while he is learning his trade. And there might well be other factors involved as well such as the tactical situation

 

Historically speaking my 1st PLT always had the weakest platoon leader (to be fair, while the first one I had was terrible, and I gave him a lot of special love and attention to try to help him, the second one was simply the weakest of the three really strong LTs I had at the time). I tended to follow Red Platoon as a result because if someone was going to do something marginal if the mission went off the rails, it was going to be (the first) Red 1.  Trail was impassible?  Plop down, announce the trail was impassable and try to bring his platoon back to the assembly area because of course he cannot do the mission if he cannot go down one of the dozens of trails heading to the objective area.  I could trust White and Blue 1 to report the main route was down, and then try to find an alternate way, which meant I had to be less up their butt.  It also illustrates the value of placing yourself at the highest friction point, or most decisive portion of the operation, because its a lot easier to adjust the plan/mission with your eyeballs on the operation than what is coming across the radio.

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Yeah.  I had a tank company, so we had an attached maintenance team in an M88A2+some varity of trucks (usually a HMMWV with a small tool shed, or for more deliberate operations a HEMMIT type vehicle with a sort of palletized mechanic's shop), an ambulance M113, the 1SG's M113, some number of HMMWVs (we had three which wasn't MTOE, but they'd carry people like our CBRN NCO, and other HQ dudes), and a cargo truck (although in tactical situations this truck lived with the Battalion's logistics assets, and would basically carry any supplies that weren't food, ammo, or fuel to use during resupply).

 

In a situation in which I was worried about all those things, having the XO there to manage them (as those HQ things are things he's usually the functional platoon leader of), and ride shotgun on it in his tank made some sense (especially if I had to evacuate casualties or a damaged tank under fire).

 

However in a more complex operation it's better assuming risk, or that the HQ/logistics guys are secure enough behind friendly lines, and bringing him forward to ride shotgun on part of the operation is useful.  Also if I buy it, he's the next in command so having him on hand to do so is not the least intelligent thing to do.

 

 

Was pretty sure this was the case, but it's sort of a matter of if I've got 14 tanks, there's a place I habitually put my XO, so I'm going to keep doing that.  Also if it's a platoon off by itself having five instead of four tanks is nice too.  Additionally for the US, while all units can spot for artillery, the CO, and XO can both spot for aviation too, so it's a way of allowing a detached element to call for aviation while not taking the FIST team away from the main effort.

 

 

Historically speaking my 1st PLT always had the weakest platoon leader (to be fair, while the first one I had was terrible, and I gave him a lot of special love and attention to try to help him, the second one was simply the weakest of the three really strong LTs I had at the time). I tended to follow Red Platoon as a result because if someone was going to do something marginal if the mission went off the rails, it was going to be (the first) Red 1.  Trail was impassible?  Plop down, announce the trail was impassable and try to bring his platoon back to the assembly area because of course he cannot do the mission if he cannot go down one of the dozens of trails heading to the objective area.  I could trust White and Blue 1 to report the main route was down, and then try to find an alternate way, which meant I had to be less up their butt.  It also illustrates the value of placing yourself at the highest friction point, or most decisive portion of the operation, because its a lot easier to adjust the plan/mission with your eyeballs on the operation than what is coming across the radio.

 

Thankyou for sharing your interesting and highly informative professional insights with us. In particular regard to the management of subordinates who one would probably apply a negative leadership rating at that point in their careers.  Sounds like that last guy would be a -2 or even a -3. Your White and Blue leaders obviously knew what they were doig. Red Leader sounds very inexperienced and lacking in confidence and probably lacked a good sergeannt to take the new officer under his wing. Maybe that is how you eventuallly resolved the problem. Things like that happen in every workplace and sometimes buddying the poor performer up with an experienced member of staff is the way to go. You as the manager (or in your case Company CO) cannot be spending all your time nursemaiding a weak subordinate - tht takes you away from other vital roles you have. Your job was ultimately t lead your company in battle and, if you are shheperding a weak platoon leader, effectively doing his job for him you are doing your own job less effectively than you should be in consequence of the problem you are having to address. Would this be an accurate assessment of your problem in the circumstances you have outlined?

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 Red Leader sounds very inexperienced and lacking in confidence and probably lacked a good sergeannt to take the new officer under his wing. Maybe that is how you eventuallly resolved the problem

 

Red 4 (tank platoon call signs: 1 is Platoon Leader, 2 and 3 are just the "regular" tanks, with 4 being the Platoon Sergeant) was actually likely the only reason Red Platoon was still functioning.  Great NCO.  Red 1 was some sort of lesser nobility in his home country which made the unfortunate combination of "not a good tactical leader" and "convinced he was better than mere NCOs."

 

I cannot emphasize how much effort we all put into him.  We were actually his second go at being a platoon leader after he was fired from one of our sister units.  I was convinced that he just hadn't gotten a fair chance, that maybe he was someone that his last unit just hadn't given the sort of time and attention to mature into a good platoon leader.

 

After few months of trying very hard we replaced him with a new LT.  Fairly smart, knew to listen to Red 4.*  Wasn't as excited about tanking as my White/Blue 1s, but again was simply the weaker of strong leaders rather than the anchor around someone's neck.

 

In a shooting war though, I'd likely have fired the first Red 1, put someone like my Master Gunner in as the tank commander for the 11 tank, and left Red 4 as the Platoon leader because god knows he was basically doing the job anyway.  

This is totally off topic.  Red 4 was just a good enough of a tanker/NCO that I feel like I should make the point of illustrating he was good, just saddled with one of the worst Platoon Leaders I ever worked with.

 

*Really.  He wasn't my strongest Platoon Sergeant in terms of overall NCO duties, but he was the best tanker in the Company.  

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It's a privilege to read contributions made to this thread by real-world military personnel, including a couple of pretty senior ones. Thank you'

This is a good place to resolve my curiosity about one thing regarding officers and personal weapons; why were some infantry officers in WW2 issued with a Thompson sub-machine gun, like Tom Hanks in "Saving Private Ryan" and others carried rifles? (My father was a Captain in the Gurkhas during the unpleasantness in Malaya, 1949 to 1961 and he was issued with a sten gun but I garher they were not good kit…)

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I was a bit spooked to hop on this forum and to find the amount of people on here I'd have to call "sir" if I ran into them at work.

 

In terms of weapons, a lot of it depended on the unit and what it was doing.  Late war units of all sorts tended to acquire what they found more useful vs what they were assigned.  I know a lot of US units started to take on a sort of gypsy appearance, with some squads having as many as three BARs vs the one assigned, or many soldiers scooping up MP-40s, loose M3s from broken vehicles for "close encounters."  NCOs and officers were no exception, and you wind up with all sorts of personal weapons choices given increasingly they were the veterans who'd survived the last battle.    

 

In terms of why officers wind up with them it's twofold:

 

1. The Sten, and M1 carbine were both handed out to leaders because they often were carrying additional equipment like smaller radios, maps, signals equipment, binoculars etc, and a smaller lighter weapon would be preferred.

 

2. Officers are not "not supposed to fight" but their greater contribution is in commanding and controlling the fight, so basically if they can get away with it, they're on coms, they're moving from position to position to get better situation awareness, basically serving as the higher brain functions for their units.  If they're in a fight though, it's likely because the enemy is now in the 50-100 meter range though and things are bad.  An SMG or carbine is a good tool for making the enemy go back to the 100-200 meter range, or being the winner in a fight against an enemy infantryman with his bolt action that has closed to your position.  

 

My granddad carried a former US Post Office Thompson (the M1928 I think the one with the drum) through Guadalcanal because it was the sort of thing that you could lay into the jungle to get breathing space so he could get back to NCOing.  If I recall right he wound up with a standard M1 Thompson through Tarawa, and then used a carbine for the rest of the war post-"Hey SSG Panzersaurkrautwerfer, we're out of 2LTs.  So uh, congratulations 2LT Panzersaurkrautwerfer!" 

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Red 4 (tank platoon call signs: 1 is Platoon Leader, 2 and 3 are just the "regular" tanks, with 4 being the Platoon Sergeant) was actually likely the only reason Red Platoon was still functioning.  Great NCO.  Red 1 was some sort of lesser nobility in his home country which made the unfortunate combination of "not a good tactical leader" and "convinced he was better than mere NCOs."

 

I cannot emphasize how much effort we all put into him.  We were actually his second go at being a platoon leader after he was fired from one of our sister units.  I was convinced that he just hadn't gotten a fair chance, that maybe he was someone that his last unit just hadn't given the sort of time and attention to mature into a good platoon leader.

 

After few months of trying very hard we replaced him with a new LT.  Fairly smart, knew to listen to Red 4.*  Wasn't as excited about tanking as my White/Blue 1s, but again was simply the weaker of strong leaders rather than the anchor around someone's neck.

 

In a shooting war though, I'd likely have fired the first Red 1, put someone like my Master Gunner in as the tank commander for the 11 tank, and left Red 4 as the Platoon leader because god knows he was basically doing the job anyway.  

This is totally off topic.  Red 4 was just a good enough of a tanker/NCO that I feel like I should make the point of illustrating he was good, just saddled with one of the worst Platoon Leaders I ever worked with.

 

*Really.  He wasn't my strongest Platoon Sergeant in terms of overall NCO duties, but he was the best tanker in the Company.  

 

There are people who just should not be in a particular job. In real war you would have most likely tried to reassign that officer before he got a lot of people killed. I an not a professional military man like yourself but I think I understand at least that much. Anyway, as you say we are moving off topic here. Nevertheless it was interesting as a management issue.

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I like the verb NCOing! Going back to topic, in a cm scenario, if i want to scatter my infantry company and let a platoon go somewhere else, if i send my xo with them does he help communication links and/or morale?

Nope. That role of the XO isn't modelled.
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