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German attack doctrine in CM


JasonC
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I think the fascinating insight is more helpful in getting scenario designers to put their creations together and give a "historical" feel to them than it is a recipe for battlefield success.

 

Yes, very good point, I think you're right.

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If the division hits serious enemy armor, but only then, it has to get more circumspect about its attacks.  Then it cares about maintaining a line and a reserve, and attrites the enemy by putting armor on armor, with TDs and firepower arms helping.  It still tries to envelop that enemy.  The effectiveness of all the division's armor increases significantly if they get on 2-3 sides of the enemy.  They also try to win the soft firepower, HE war, to strip the enemy of his infantry support.  That is a matter of divisional and higher level artillery, tank and assault gun fire, and air support; L-5 spotting aircraft also direct artillery fire and add to an intel differential.  The assumption is that winning the soft firepower war will deprive the enemy armor of its "eyes", and that then maneuver to its flanks and cutting its road routes will render it immobile and impotent.

 

I hope that helps understand US tactical methods, and how they differed between its infantry division and armor division components.

The war shows that tanks are very good at mutually destroying each other. Especially when the tanks were of like-tonnage. Major engagements between Division size armored formations during the war usually resulted in heavy losses on both sides. The Americans and Russians usually coming out on top anyway thanks to their ability to just somehow repair tons of vehicles fast and keep their tank formations at full strength all the time. While a smashed Panzer Division was out of action for months and then only came back at brigade strength.

Edited by CaptHawkeye
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If you have any similar insight, a description of the British/CW strategy compared to the US would be very interesting/helpful (in CMBN/CMFI of course).

 

I am sure Jason will be along, but the CW attack doctrine in 1944 (actually going back to 1918) was "Bite and Hold".

 

First, they would set limited objectives that they could hold against a German counter-attack. A typical attack would be as follows:

 

1. prep barrage against known enemy positions. They might also progressively "lift" or move the barrage forward so troops could walk onto enemy positions before the defenders could react;

 

2. infantry would move forward supported by tanks to deal with enemy positions along the way. In normandy, tanks used, at least in the Canadian Army, would be regular 75mm Shermans;

 

3. Once the objective was captured, 1) troops would dig in, 2) FOs would be brought up and would pre-register artillery against expected counter-attack routes; 3) AT guns and 76 mm Fireflys would be bought up and placed so they could attack any counter-attacking enemy AFVs on the flanks;

 

4. Once the German counter-attack developped (almost a given), artillery would strip out the infantry, AT assets would deal with the AFVs and infantry would deal with what is left.

 

Once 3 was properly setup, it was almost impossible for the German counter-attack to succeed.

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First, I am no expert on Commonwealth doctrine.  They did make extensive use  of prepared artillery fires including WWI style rolling barrages, and some of their careful, casualty avoiding practices mirror those of the US infantry arm.  Their armor doctrine was more inclined to send massed tanks out on their own, with not exactly spectacular results - except in a bad way.  They managed some truly epic losses of large amounts of armor in short periods of time with little to show for it, as a result (Knightsbridge, Villiers Bocage, Goodwood all come to mind).  Through midwar, their armor doctrine was too tank focused and their armor-artillery coordination was "pants", but they do appear to have gotten somewhat better about such things as the war progressed.  (Lots of powers learned lessons over the course of the war, obviously). They had better luck with supported infantry divisions, which naturally had better combined arms and subordinated tanks to infantry forces.  Which is ironic considering their armor officers thought that such uses of armor were a mistake and a waste.  (New Zealanders in Africa, Canadians in Normandy, also Scots infantry divisions in Epsom, etc).  But this is an outsider's impression and may focus too exclusively on their failures and doctrinal differences.

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SlowLarry - fight the right way, and CM victories will come.  Don't distort the fighting method to fit bad modeling and bad victory conditions in the game.

When you get good enough at it, that stuff won't matter.

 

Err ... I disagree. This is like writing the perfect essay on the fall of the Roman empire in a geography exam or serving a perfectly fried egg to a customer who wants it boiled. Tactics are a means of solving problems - if you misunderstand or ignore the problem you are wasting your time.

 

I find this a particularly surprising point of view in a thread discussing German attack doctrine given the German emphasis on Mission Command, which is underpinned by subordinates being given clear missions and clear intent. Are you sure you meant to say this?

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Combatintman - yes I mean to say this.  Ignore the victory conditions in all cases.  Just defeat the enemy force in front of you.  That is always the only sound mission.  You can achieve any other objective if you succeed at that, and nothing you "achieve" if you do not, is worth a tuppenny damn.

 

"There are many fine general officers in Europe, but they all see too many things.  Whereas I see only one thing - the main body of the enemy.  This I crush, confident that secondary matters will take care of themselves" - Napoleon.

 

Any military doctrine that distracts its implementers from the clear goal of defeating the enemy, is unsound.

Edited by JasonC
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Geez, the German fanboism is strong here, everyone else must have been stupid by default too. 

 

Really ? That's what you got from this informative thread about how the Germans used their forces differently to other armies ( and with useful CM-applicable tutorial ) ? :rolleyes:

 

See here for the Soviet fanboism then : http://community.battlefront.com/topic/120450-russian-doctrine-in-cmrt/

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I am a chemist not an physicist. But one thing that is missing in the analysis of doctrine here and everywhere is the element of time. The 4th dimension to a 3D battlefield. "If I can hold my position until ... reinforcements arrive" "My attack/defense will succeed". Time is not random like weather or personalities involved. It's tugging at combat constantly at every level from strategic to tactical.

 

To defeat the enemy they must be compelled to fight. This involves threatening something of value to them. So terrain objectives can be the ultimate goal of an engagement and/or those that aid in achieving the ultimate goal. Once the enemy is compelled to fight, attaining objectives provides the ground to foster friendly movement and firepower whereby the enemy is destroyed or compelled to give you what is of value to them. 

 

To ignore victory conditions (by and large terrain) within a time frame (or produce scenarios without them) would create battles like paint ball except the weekend is infinitely long and the winner has less paint on their cloths. I do not think you could make historical scenarios under these conditions. Or even hypothetical ones that truly test a nation's doctrine. Without a reason to do battle there is no war game. 

 

Kevin

Edited by kevinkin
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I am all for making the enemy force the main objective, however you cannot ignore the terrain objectives completely, in fact they should be used to help you focus your efforts and analysis, and will be your guide on helping to find the enemy positions. So though you can say things like "ignore the victory conditions" it is a bit simplistic and not really realistic.

Edited by Bil Hardenberger
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Honestly people, it is completely unnecessary to give the idiot scenario designer any control over your command or your force. If his assigned tasks are not achievable he is a fool and there is no reason to listen to him about anything. If his assigned tasks are achievable then destroying the enemy will enable you to achieve them. Read the brifeing for enemy force estimates and intel. Then review your force at set up and make your plan, with the sole end in view of murdering the enemy. If said enemy is obliging enough to be nice and predictable and obey his metaphysical orders, feel free to use that to introduce him to his Maker that much sooner. When the enemy is a blood smear under a pile of smoking slag, read the victory conditions. If you like. If you plan on losing, reading them until judgment day won't help...

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The condescending tone is nice, thanks for that.

 

So your plan is to:

  1. "Murder" the enemy
  2. Read the briefing for your intel and force estimates
  3. Once you "murder" the enemy read the victory conditions

Number 1 is not always so simple.. I suppose you never play H2H?

Number 2 -- hey whattaya know; this will use the "idiot" scenario designer's objectives and his scenario briefing, etc..

Number 3 - only after you "murder" the enemy will you check the victory conditions?  

 

Personally I think knowing the conditions during pre-planning helps some... because it is not always possible to simply destroy the enemy force.  If you can do that in every game, even against the AI I would like to see an AAR from you.

Edited by Bil Hardenberger
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Honestly people, it is completely unnecessary to give the idiot scenario designer .

 

LOL - like really out loud - people are staring.

 

Time for a few of us idiots to create a special scenario just for you.  Oh who am I kidding that would be a waste of time. :D

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As a bit of an outsider, I *think* JasonC's comments are being taken a bit the wrong way -- I don't know enough about any of you, but I don't think he's trying to be offensive.

 

I would guess he's promoting the idea from Napolean's quote, 'There are in Europe many good generals, but they see too many things at once. I see one thing, namely the enemy's main body. I try to crush it, confident that secondary matters will then settle themselves.'  As in, you can use the objectives for clues to where the enemy might go or be, but don't make trying to capture them your primary objective -- make destroying the enemy force your main goal, and capturing the objectives will fall into your lap.

 

I'm not saying I agree or disagree with that theory, just trying to mitigate some of the drama before it blows up -- JasonC, Bill and Ian are some of the posters whose material I value the most.

 

I think the entire comment was meant to be a little sarcastic in tone, not really calling the scenario designers idiots.  His choice of word "murdering" seems a bit out of character from other posts of his I have read, making it also seem a bit more sarcastic in tone.  I mean he wrote haiku's when told he should shorten his comments!  I could be wrong, but I'll assume the good until proven otherwise.

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Murdering is not sarcasm, it is emphasis.  Don't tickle with the fingers, strike with the fist, is a saying of the same sort.  Don't meander around, pussyfooting for this or that minor terrain objective.  Take his bloody head off.  The rest will follow.

 

Then write us up an AAR and show us neanderthals how it's done. You sure like to type a lot, but you never really show what your strategy actually looks like in the game. 

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The quote that follows was not from a German and it was made and put into practice in WW1, not WW2. All arms in WW1? Yes and the quote is still applicable today.

 

the true role of infantry was not to expend itself upon heroic physical effort, not to wither away under merciless machine-gun fire, not to impale itself on hostile bayonets, but on the contrary, to advance under the maximum possible protection of the maximum possible array of mechanical resources, in the form of guns, machine-guns, tanks, mortars and aeroplanes; to advance with as little impediment as possible; to be relieved as far as possible of the obligation to fight their way forward.

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One interesting point is the fact that much of WW2 doctrine was developped in WW1 and was often developped in reaction to enemy doctrine.

For example, mid WW1, the Germans developped the concept of the "elastic defence", which remained their basic doctrine until 1945. In a nutshell, it was composed of 3 basic elements:

1. the forward line was very lightly manned to reduce casualties from the prep barrage. Its main role was to warn when the main assault was coming and to slow it down;

2. The Main Line of Resistance ("MLR") was placed farther back, usually on a reverse slope so it could not be fired on directly by enemy guns; and

3. a reserve force would be positioned farther back, ready to reinforce the MLR or counterattack if the enemy force broke through.

At first, it worked very well, CW assault troops once they broke through the MLR would often advance outside of friendly artillery range, become disorganised and were often pushed back by the German counterattack, often wiping out all the original gains.

In reaction, the British developped the concept of "Bite and Hold". The idea was that by consolidating early within range of friendly artillery, CW troops would have an organised defence AND artillery support once the German counterattacked.

Fast forward 20+ years, in the western desert in 1941 and 42, British Armour was operating independently, trying to out-german the Germans, usually with disastrous results.

Once Monty took over, the first thing he did was to bring back the concept of "Bite and Hold", bringing the armour under tight control and using it just as infantry support. It worked very well at El Alamein, in a series of limited "Bite and Hold" operations over several days, the British dismantled the German defensive position piece by piece and forced to Rommel to use up his reserves until he was forced to retreat.

The Normandy campaign followed the same pattern. We have to remember that the German defensive position in the British sector was very good. Most of the terrain was wide open and dominated by high ground, so CW tanks could be fired on from far away. The Germans had also massed most of their armour and several SS Panzer divisions in that sector. Yet, in a series of "Bite and Hold" operations, some succesful ("Totalize"), some less so ("Goodwood"), CW troops again dismantled the German defensive position and wrote down German armour to the point where they could no longer prevent the breakout.

"Bite and Hold", not flashy like Blitzkrieg, but it works.

Edited by Sgt Joch
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What bite and hold is is cautious. The British were loathe to repeat unprecedented disasters like the Somme.

The British saw armor like metal cavalry for too long and often just charged tanks into heavily fortified (and mined) defensive positions. The British believed through the entire war for some reason that the German defense line was always just a thin crust of gun positions with nothing behind them. That the German defense line at Alamein wasn't 1 km, or 5km, or even 25km but 50 kilometers of overlapping positions was what the British failed to appreciate. Note the Germans ran into the same kind of problem at Kursk. You can stop armor with a thick enough defense line but that calls for the enemy to sit totally idle while you prepare it. (Which the Germans obliged to thanks to Hitler's delays.) At circumstances like Kursk the most successful vehicles were usually the heaviest ones and suddenly the value of weapons like the Tiger or even partial insanity like the Maus suddenly don't seem so crazy anymore.

Edited by CaptHawkeye
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There are plenty of times Jason's approach of focusing on whaling on the enemy til they cry "Uncle" will work just fine: every QB, and the vast majority of scenarios have straightforward "grab the ground, kill the enemy" VCs. But if you literally don't read the victory conditions, you'll get caught out by things like time limits curtailing your map exit, and situations where the enemy aren't concentrating on your own victory conditions; in situations where the enemy declines to allow you to "take his head off", you can waste a lot of time trying to land the killer punch and asymmetric VCs can mean this gets him a victory in the context of the narrative as presented. It is a trivial matter for Jason to demonstrate that there are circumstances where he is correct.

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"...every QB, and the vast majority of scenarios have straightforward "grab the ground, kill the enemy" VCs."

CM2 has always suffered from the unpredictable/strange way victory is calculated compared with CM1. I agree, too many times in CM2 the scenario will abruptly and unexpectedly end with an enemy surrender, leaving one "unfulfilled" and with a sense of anticlimax as one is deprived of the pleasure of experiencing a carefully planned attack endgame come to fruition.

It is far too common that a game result can go from a big defeat to a big victory because of very small changes... a few men being killed etc. CM2 victory conditions are unstable in that regard. It's like CM1 is an aircraft that can glide predictably, and CM2 is a sophisticated modern aircraft which can become very unstable very quickly.

Edited by Erwin
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"...every QB, and the vast majority of scenarios have straightforward "grab the ground, kill the enemy" VCs."

CM2 has always suffered from the unpredictable/strange way victory is calculated compared with CM1. I agree, too many times in CM2 the scenario will abruptly and unexpectedly end with an enemy surrender, leaving one "unfulfilled" and with a sense of anticlimax as one is deprived of the pleasure of experiencing a carefully planned attack endgame come to fruition.

Sorry, you can't agree with me there, since I don't hold that viewpoint. Nor is it the point under discussion. The very fact of the AI autosurrender supports Jason's assertions: beat 'em about the head and shoulders badly enough, and you'll get a Surrender which yields to you the full destruction and terrain VPs, almost always resulting in a Total Victory (unless you let the enemy kill too many of your own troops in a scenario where the casualty threshold was a large factor in your potential VPs). A similar phenomenon holds for those who seek to attack the spirit and motivation of the player (through the medium of moves on the CM map o' course :) ) - handle his troops roughly, while not letting him kill many of yours and there is a threshold (different for each opponent) beyond which they'll hit the Surrender button.

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I don't think anyone here is arguing the validity of JasonC's tactical analysis of the WW2 battle doctrines of the various nations. I, for one, find them very interesting. Thanks, Jason.

 

On the other hand, I believe what many of us would like to see is JasonC put his tactics to the test in a PBEM game with the DAR posted here on these forums. I wager Bil might find the time, or IanL, or several other veteran players. A Large or Huge QB would be ideal, IMO. This is, after all, a gaming forum. :)  

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