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German attack doctrine in CM


JasonC
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Discussion about operational art in a tactical game....yes, this will go perfectly. Oh wait, its a complete mess, shocking!

 

Lets stop confusing terrain objectives at the tactical level for terrain objectives at the operational level, one is necessary, the other is only contextual next to the main body. Considering the 'main body' in a tactical scenario may be no more than a reinforced platoon of enemies, there's often serious considerations viz. force preservation to not break your neck trying to completely destroy them.

 

What, precisely, is the point of this thread if not to stroke some ego and take cheap shots at the design philosophy of these games? That's clearly what its devolved into. Also: regurgitating quotes from Guderian doesn't make you an expert on operational art, it simply makes you a good reader. Obviously going after the bulk of the enemy is always a sound option, but terrain, context (which despite your asinine wording, is neither stupid nor unrealistic)  and what your force is offensively capable of (which is dictated by so many factors that I'd rather not rival the length of your average post trying to jot them all down) may mean a more limited approach is necessary.

Edited by Rinaldi
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@Bil and IanL

 

I could do it, but I'm starting a new job in two weeks. After my training period (probably three to four weeks), I'll be working three 12.5 hour shifts every Sat/Sun/Mon (along with a 45 minute commute each way). That does leave me with four days off each week (Tue-Fri). So yea, if Jason is interested we could start a QB in a month or so, but I obviously wouldn't be doing any turns on Sat/Sun/Mon.

 

Not trying to push you Jason. If you don't want to do it, no worries. This isn't the Peng thread, after all.

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"Why don't you and him fight?"  Doesn't even merit a response.

 

On grabbing  the ground and wailing on the enemy, yes on two and who cares on one.  I never mentioned grabbing ground.  

 

Ground only matters if it helps shelter or defend your forces, or especially runs the enemy out of places to stand, or ways to avoid you.  

 

Womble on the other hand has understood me exactly.  Play for the auto surrender or the enemy commander failing his personal morale check.  Even if they don't, the farther you get toward those outcomes the easier everything else will be.  The less enemy force there is left alive, the less they can even defend themselves, let alone effectively contest anything else you set your mind to.  

 

Everything good follows from a dead enemy force, nothing important is actually accomplished if he is left alive and in full control of his force and able to react.  There is, to be sure, an intermediate state in the maneuver method, where he is still alive but put way out of position or pinned and unable to move - but that's just a means to destroying him.  It is not a substitute victory condition and it especially is not about ground.

 

Every military doctrine that puts ground control or (indecisive, extraneous, frankly *fake* and chickenstuff) mission fulfillment criteria above defeating the enemy is *unsound*.  

 

Don't ask the scenario designer's permission or consult his requirements or review his movie script for his expectations.  Blow up his theater, scatter the ashes, and plow the earth with salt.  

 

He is not in charge, the enemy is not in charge, you are.  When no one else is left alive on the field, your estimates of what matters will be the only ones left, and you can crown yourself if you feel like it.  .

Edited by JasonC
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Any doctrine that views "murdering the enemy" as a objective that occurs within a vacuum is also rubbish.

 

Terrain is more than just cover to defend your troops or block your opponents movement. To treat terrain like a side note is pure fantasy. You are placing a cookie cutter concept  (destroying the enemy force) on a pedestal and ignoring any other possible considerations. Talking about a game of basket ball stating "you only goal is to score points" and ignoring the effect that controlling sections of the court has on that, is crazy.

 

Terrain effects nearly every facet of combat, tactical/operational/strategic. It determines engagement ranges, choke points, avenues of approach, mobility, etc, etc, etc. In many ways it is like having a 3rd army on the battlefield, which opposes both sides. A lot like the weather actually. It is a heck of a lot more than simply defense for your units and places your can block the enemy.

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Luke, it'll never happen. From reading Jason's stuff I bet he has never played a human opponent.

Oh and what theories? There are no theories here, only an over simplification of an end state, "kill the enemy". No $hit, that is always the goal, but as Shift8 stated, ignore the other aspects of the battlefield including time and terrain, etc. at your peril. Rarely is it so simple to just go out and kill the other force, unless you always play with a far superior numerical or firepower advantage.

Edited by Bil Hardenberger
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Combat Missions's scenarios aren't designed for textbook applications of tactics. They're designed to be challenging. In that light terrain objectives and short mission timers make perfect sense. I could see QB essentially being the place to go for a by-the-numbers approach. The scenarios, campaigns, etc should not be so easy.

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Note that understanding Jason does not mean that I agree with him. Nor that I completely disagree with him. If terrain objectives are to be taken, it's much easier to do that if you've swept the enemy away with your lead broom. But you still have to take them, and to do that you have to know where they are, which implies paying some attention to the assigned objectives. Because if you forget to occupy an occupy VL and your human opponent refuses to Surrender, you're not going to collect the VPs for that VL.

 

Because this is a game we're playing, the scenario has to provide the operational context, and if that says you can't afford the losses it'll take to whup your opponent, you'd better not spend too much effort on the beat-down. But where VCs are simplistic and force matchups putatively "even", beating the tar out of the other guy is absolutely a way of achieving your objectives.

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Since I started reading JasonC's posts, over the last 15 years or so, (I've been lurking here a long time, I guess) he has pretty unwaveringly (and at times, to be fair, somewhat brusquely) advocated an attritionist stance, both operationally and tactically.  As an attritionist, he argues that efforts that do not aim to reduce enemy fighting power are at best an inefficient way of winning, and at worst a waste of resources. 

 

Therefore he argues that terrain has no value, unless it imparts an edge when it comes to destroying enemy power.  A bridge that crosses a major river is just a bridge.  A bridge that is the only supply route for an enemy formation, the destruction of which would leave them unsupplied and cut off, is a valuable target.  The minute the enemy finds another MSR, that bridge is less important.

 

So his position is that any piece of terrain has only relative value tied to its ability to affect the reduction of enemy fighting power.  Great, sounds good.

 

But the current question (and we are far from German tactical doctrine now), has become one of scenario design.  As I understand it, JasonC is basically saying that a scenario designer who ties the balance of victory to terrain locations is handcuffing the player by forcing them to go after ground, not go after the enemy.

 

Now I'm not knocking scenario designers - I've tried designing some, and I know it's really really difficult to do, much less well.  My hat goes off to anyone who gets one finished, frankly.  But I see his point about scenarios that overvalue victory locations.  Why do I have to put boots in that village when I can just drive around it because I have killed off everything outside of it, and it is now totally isolated, all the ground around dominated by my fire?  The enemy there is powerless, and I can kill him whenever I want, because he can't move without being blown to smithereens.  Yet achieving this, I have lost the CM scenario, because I have not physically planted my flag on the enemy strongpoint, as it were.

 

I can, however, see two situations where one would design a scenario with a patch of ground that absolutely must be taken.  The first is that you as the scenario designer provide a reason that makes that village an important piece of terrain.  Maybe it is the only good option for an MSR for forces advancing past it, or it has an important bridge crossing that you need to use.  Maybe the important VP location is the hill that allows your FO to see the the road going through the village!  The other reason is to create a scenario in which you have to take that village because your commander thinks that ground has intrinsic value in and of itself, and you are just the poor schlep following orders!  But even then, I think that victory should not be solely or largely dependant on holding that ground at the end of the scenario, in terms of victory points.  If all the defenders are dead or shattered, they will not hold that village for much longer.

 

As a final point, one of the big reasons I am hopeful that choppinit's operational layer project succeeds is to reduce that sort of terrain VP based mentality.  One almost never sees defenders withdraw in a CM scenario.  They stand to the point that they break or die, and it is rare that a scenario awards a majority of points for defender force preservation.  I realise that it is very hard to do from a design and balance standpoint, so there is that.  But in a dynamic campaign, force preservation can become huge, and the idea of living to fight another day can have some real merit, so long as the campaign itself is well designed.  Of course, I'm sure we will see the same arguments repeated then, with "campaign" substituted for "scenario".  I look forward to it!

 

 

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In combat mission we compete to win - at least most of us try anyway. It can be enjoyable to set up battles to test one's tactical ideas or try to simulate differing doctrines. Here, attaining formal victory conditions is less important. The victor can be satisfied if they had funWhereas in a competitive situation success is quantitative. So in a competitive game the player must orient on the means to achieve a quantitative victory i.e. points. This could be done by a seek and destroy method that follows a nation's doctrine or the player's own. However, there are tactical problems where exclusively orienting on the enemy forces will lose to the element of time. We have heard of delaying type missions. Or tried our own direct attack to save time and then suffer game losing casualties. Or the satisfaction of preempting the enemy by seizing key terrain (and points) forcing the enemy to charge our nice defensive position. Fortunately for the player the list goes on and on. Knowing where the enemy is without adequate time and firepower will not be enough to win if crushing them is the only tactic in the player's playbook. The scenario designer must allow each side at least one way to win the battle. And in a sense put their reputation on the line that they are not wasting player's time giving them a hopeless task. If I were outnumbered 4 to 1 I would run off the battlefield and call it a draw. But I can't since the 100 point town and bridge are left to the enemy. But wait if I hold for 45 mins the cavalry arrives and the odds shift to my favor for the last 15 mins and maybe ... just maybe. So they better destroy me clean and fast and get set because the 4th quarter will be a bitch. The town and time limit provides a reason to fight the battle. Without those or a way to leave the battlefield we would have cage fighting 4 guys to 1.  
 
Kevin
Edited by kevinkin
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But the current question (and we are far from German tactical doctrine now), has become one of scenario design.  As I understand it, JasonC is basically saying that a scenario designer who ties the balance of victory to terrain locations is handcuffing the player by forcing them to go after ground, not go after the enemy.

I think you're misunderstanding Jason in this case. He's arguing that what the designer has specified as the VCs doesn't matter until you've eradicated the enemy. Once his troops are dead or huddling at his friendly map edge you can saunter onto those overvalued Occupy VLs at will. The rest of your post cogently outlines situations where that might not be true. Many of them would be obvious in the briefing if the designer set it up right, but you would still need to account for the detail of the VCs if you were playing for points.

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To continue my rant, it was the Allies who favoured the use of tanks and other mechanical assistance for the infantry, including tanks converted to carry them, in WW1. Not the Germans who had the same problem as any infantry which was basically a limit to human endurance where transport and other mechanical go forward assistance was not provided. Having a fancy name like 'stormtrooper' made no difference actually, all armies had their attack specialists and shock troops by whatever name and they all could only go forward on foot for a limited time.

 

The relevance of all this is very much seen in WW2 where the Germans used the methodology and equipment types that had been used so successfully aginst them in WW1, they had learnt their lesson well. The rubbish spouted by some about the Germans learning from various self promoting authors just does not make sense when you consider that the stand out German practitioners of mechanical warfare in WW2 had fought in WW1 and would well know what had worked against them.

 

The point about infantry is that they basically should just hold ground which has been taken in all arms actions, while the thought of infantry dashing forward using all sorts of clever tactics may be superficially attractive it becomes casualty expensive where any sort of firm resistance is offered. There are plenty of examples from WW2 of this from all sides if examples are needed, an obvious lesson which is not so easy to always apply in practice.

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I think you're misunderstanding Jason in this case. He's arguing that what the designer has specified as the VCs doesn't matter until you've eradicated the enemy. Once his troops are dead or huddling at his friendly map edge you can saunter onto those overvalued Occupy VLs at will. The rest of your post cogently outlines situations where that might not be true. Many of them would be obvious in the briefing if the designer set it up right, but you would still need to account for the detail of the VCs if you were playing for points.

What is not being understood here is that "murdering" the enemy force IS NOT the objective in war. Neutralizing the enemy force is. 

 

And no, that is not just semantics. Like Bill pointed out earlier, unless you have a massive advantage in firepower or manpower, you cannot ignore terrain in a fight, and even then doing so would be wasteful in most circumstances. In reality, all battles are won by achieving and advantage of some kind. Whether that is through troop concentration to achieve mass for assault, or bombardment reduce the enemy's ability to resist, or through maneuver to force the enemy into a disadvantageous position that enhances your own forces ability to fight. 

 

Attacking the enemy with cookie-cutter fire and movement is a recipe for suicide. It is very much akin to clearing  a room. NOBODY in their right mind stacks up and breaches a room through weight of bodies if your rules of engagement would have allowed you to satchel the entire building instead. Room clearing or building clearing tactics  are a basis for clearing a structure with the fewest possible casualties by attempting to mass bodies into a room before the enemy can cut you all down. Somebody is going to die though if your enemy is not caught unawares. Same goes with platoon or company fire and maneuver. Im not going to initiate an assault involving suppressive fires and bounding movements when I could just sneak around the back of a hill and come up inside the enemies flank. 

 

That being said, the terrain objectives on a map have to be assumed to have some sort of strategic/operational/tactical significance. Lets just look at another historical example shall we? 

 

During the Mortain Counter-Attack in August of 44, Hill 317 Could not be bypassed because it was an important spotting point for artillery and air support. IE: Terrain dictated the focal point of an entire offensive, and successful defense of that objective impeded the entire advance (among other things.)

 

Bastogne, possessed a road network that was important to maintaining the German advance in the Bulge. Not taking it tied down units that could have been doing other things. 

 

We could also mention the cities of Caen or Saint Lo, or the Rhine as important pieces of Terrain that influenced how battles were fought and their outcomes. 

 

If a mission designer puts a box around a town, it only makes sense that on some level it is necessary. Going beyond that objective, and attempting to destroy the enemy beyond what you were ordered to do would in most cases be stupid. For example, lets say you are orders to seize a high point that overlooks a bridgehead. You successfully do that. So are you now going to assault the bridge on your own into enemy forces that might now have a defensive advantage? What your force even set up for such an operation? Are you authorized to go on wanton assaults you were not ordered to? 

 

It therefore makes sense to push into or closely around Terrain objectives as (as the terrtain allows) because if I get there first, then I can be on defense for the rest of the match. If I ignore the "stupid designers objectives" I will most likely fight myself having to fight and offensive battle that I might have entirely avoided. Commanders issue limited terrain objectives FOR A REASON. By taking important pieces of terrain, I  might force the enemy to retreat to some other place where the battle for the rest of my army will be easier. Its alot like how in  game of chess, you sometimes move pieces into certain spaces just so you can get the enemy to move his pieces somewhere else, some where when you can reap far greater rewards than if you had committed totally on the spot. 

 

So in short: If there is a terrain objective, it is there for a reason. Maybe not for the tactical battle you are fighting, but for the larger war you are fighting in. If I fight for a road junction and lose far more men than my opponent, that is just fine, because at the end of the day holding the junction (perhaps not useful for me tactically) might mean the difference between between resupply or reinforcements arriving. 

 

I cannot emphasize enough that there is no single paramount military objective. In certain circumstances, a terrain feature may be a means to and end. In others, maneuver might be, or in others simple reduction of the enemy force. A nation fights to defeat another nation: not the nations army. If I can blockade you and starve you out, then Id rather do than than fight a pitched battle. If killing the enemy was the only thing that mattered, then any time you came across a superior force you would just retreat. But eventually you would run out of places to go, and would have to make a stand somewhere. So in effect, seizing terrain produces increasingly less realistic options for your opponent. If you do that well enough, they might just give up without a fight. 

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Moreover, you are expected to be sitting on that terrain within an explicit time table. It is implied to me in the scenarios and campaigns that these objectives must be seized violently due to a strategic window of opportunity. Circumstances dictate its immediate seizure. Storming an objective with infantry is yes costly and hard but for one reason or another The Brass have told you it must be done here. If they could've neutralized a given objective with corp artillery or mines or trained ninja chimps they would have. Fact is those assets are not available for various reasons beyond your control but this damned hamlet needs to be ours by tonight and it's not because Pvt. Timmy heard they serve great croissants.

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 If they could've neutralized a given objective with corp artillery or mines or trained ninja chimps they would have. Fact is those assets are not available for various reasons beyond your control but this damned hamlet needs to be ours by tonight and it's not because Pvt. Timmy heard they serve great croissants.

 

You, Sir, are a poet.

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All the military systems that focused the lower level field officers on complying with ground control edicts from muckety mucks by certain hours and regardless of enemy or opportunities and the like, were unsound.  In command push attrition attack systems, they could approximate sensible action by driving subordinates to attack relentlessly, but at a serious cost in losses and lack of military intelligence.  Those worked, when they did work, not because of actual ground control but because of destruction of enemy forces and the results that followed from that.  In short, it was a command "hack" to get their underlyings to fight.  But it was - and to a large extent even is - the single stupidest piece of bloody waste that commanders routinely engage in.  Military intelligence begins when those urging such things as necessary are blown a raspberry and told to go screw themselves.

 

A focus on killing the enemy is sound.  A focus even on taking ground that can be taken cheaply can be sound, especially when integrated into a system of reducing enemy maneuver or surrounding and bypassing them, etc.  But a focus on taking ground that is as heavily defended as can be imagined without regard to enemy casualties, let alone without regard to friendly casualties, is unsound.  It is Magnin level stupidity and directly responsible for the deaths of millions of brave men to no purpose whatever.  Don't indulge those urging it.

 

War is not football, you don't win it by gaining yards or scoring a touchdown.

 

Notice how thoroughly this illusion has corrupted much of what passes for military thought and popular history.  WWI battles in which half a million men were torn out of the enemy order of battle are called "indecisive" if the ground that changed hands was only a few miles.  WWII battles just as attrition driven in reality, and frequently less efficient in applied force, are regarded as sound maneuver and perfectly decisive, when they decided only a battle and not even a campaign, let alone a war, if only the ground that changed hands is measured in 50 to 200 miles instead of 5.  The war was still decided by attrition and an enemy running out of field forces, not by ground anything.  Sound ground maneuver matters when it improves the conditions of fighting - e.g. the logic of encircling the enemy described by me earlier in this thread.  But just scoring a touchdown wins nothing, and capturing the most defended flag at high cost even less.  That isn't sound attrition warfare strategy, and it isn't maneuverism either.  It is just pig headed stupidity and lack of imagination.

 

To shift8, sure the scenario designer set a scenario objective for a reason.  But it wasn't my reason, and he is not in command of my force.  I am.  He does not dictate my goals or my methods, I do.  If the scenario designers has a script he expects the players to follow, the very first command act you should commit is to set that script on fire and burn it to ashes.  Take the actual tactical situation in front of you as a configuration of terrain and forces.  Yes the actual configuration *of the terrain* may dictate that a specific spot is important and may make it worth something to get it.  But "worth something" in tactical terms means precisely an *advantage* in the actual fighting.  If being on that spot means instead being at a *disadvantage* (including an intel one e.g. the enemy is expecting you there), then no it is *not* tactically important.  It is instead a mere trap.

 

Tactically important objectives do things like allow you to shift into a defensive stance, cut up the enemy by fire lanes and thus restrict his movements, integrate your various arms and weapons, or allow you to achieve many on fews, or to chosen whether to engage or not by creating or cutting LOS by a short movement, and similar things.  Places that do this are important whether there are any flags planted on them or not.  Places that don't do any of these things are not tactically important, even if the designer plants a million magic mcguffins there.  If proper use of the tactically important bit lets you cheaply kill or paralyze the enemy force, then you can gather mcguffins after doing so.  If focus on imaginary flags (and have no doubt about it, all of those assigned importances are completely *imaginary*, compared to the smallest degree of real tactical importance) gets your force killed or leaves the enemy alive, it won't actually help.  Not in real war.

 

I completely understand that tons of people think that war is about ground control and following orders and accomplishing a mission to reach a certain spot by a certain hour, whatever the cost.  But I am telling them, and you, and anyone who will listen, that that whole understanding of war is just completely mistaken.  Terrain importance arises for reasons of the interaction of the terrain with the operating variables of the various true military strategies, attritionist or maneuverist.  It is not an additional element besides those.  Men who don't understand those systems or what they try to accomplish, or how they work when they work, try to short cut that lack of understanding by substituting things like ground control and fulfilling the higher commander's plans (whether that was sensible in the slightest or not), which amount to hoping that someone else is thinking about the war, so they don't need to.  When you know what the whole strategy is, how it works all the way up the chain, you know which of the microactions available truly support and further it and which do not.

 

Tying the enemy in knots does support the maneuverist strategy and what it is trying to accomplish, and movement is critical to that.  But ground control is ministerial to that purpose, not the other way around.  Advancing relentlessly straight over the enemy in a command push manner is indeed a basic starting method or initial attack plan in the attritionist strategy, and that strategy may well focus on hitting enemy strength rather than weakness.  But that strategy works by killing the enemy, and the hitting him where he is, is above all a matter of fire, and concentrating said fire on the most promising targets.  It is not a matter of trying to take a hill simply because the enemy put a lot of defenders on it.  It works by sending shells first, and bodies only where the enemy is expected to now be weak rather than ready, because first heavily shelled.  It views the forward positions of the enemy as opportunities because there he is exposed and can be reached by our weapons.  In that whole strategy, that our own men go stand there is completely secondary.  The attritionist strategy views any place where the enemy cannot stand without being annihilated by our fires as owned by us - not the places where our men are standing.  That the two sometimes overlap is simply a byproduct of infantry having great firepower at very close range.

Edited by JasonC
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Just cause I gotta ask, what exactly is your military experience? If the sum of it is some books and a few war games, well I gotta wonder. Captains, Majors and even Lt Cols do not get to raspberry their commanding officers and decide that objective X is not worth their effort. They do not have the full picture to make that call.

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All the military systems that focused the lower level field officers on complying with ground control edicts from muckety mucks by certain hours and regardless of enemy or opportunities and the like, were unsound.  In command push attrition attack systems, they could approximate sensible action by driving subordinates to attack relentlessly, but at a serious cost in losses and lack of military intelligence.  Those worked, when they did work, not because of actual ground control but because of destruction of enemy forces and the results that followed from that.  In short, it was a command "hack" to get their underlyings to fight.  But it was - and to a large extent even is - the single stupidest piece of bloody waste that commanders routinely engage in.  Military intelligence begins when those urging such things as necessary are blown a raspberry and told to go screw themselves.

 

A focus on killing the enemy is sound.  A focus even on taking ground that can be taken cheaply can be sound, especially when integrated into a system of reducing enemy maneuver or surrounding and bypassing them, etc.  But a focus on taking ground that is as heavily defended as can be imagined without regard to enemy casualties, let alone without regard to friendly casualties, is unsound.  It is Magnin level stupidity and directly responsible for the deaths of millions of brave men to no purpose whatever.  Don't indulge those urging it.

 

War is not football, you don't win it by gaining yards or scoring a touchdown.

 

Notice how thoroughly this illusion has corrupted much of what passes for military thought and popular history.  WWI battles in which half a million men were torn out of the enemy order of battle are called "indecisive" if the ground that changed hands was only a few miles.  WWII battles just as attrition driven in reality, and frequently less efficient in applied force, are regarded as sound maneuver and perfectly decisive, when they decided only a battle and not even a campaign, let alone a war, if only the ground that changed hands is measured in 50 to 200 miles instead of 5.  The war was still decided by attrition and an enemy running out of field forces, not by ground anything.  Sound ground maneuver matters when it improves the conditions of fighting - e.g. the logic of encircling the enemy described by me earlier in this thread.  But just scoring a touchdown wins nothing, and capturing the most defended flag at high cost even less.  That isn't sound attrition warfare strategy, and it isn't maneuverism either.  It is just pig headed stupidity and lack of imagination.

 

To shift8, sure the scenario designer set a scenario objective for a reason.  But it wasn't my reason, and he is not in command of my force.  I am.  He does not dictate my goals or my methods, I do.  If the scenario designers has a script he expects the players to follow, the very first command act you should commit is to set that script on fire and burn it to ashes.  Take the actual tactical situation in front of you as a configuration of terrain and forces.  Yes the actual configuration *of the terrain* may dictate that a specific spot is important and may make it worth something to get it.  But "worth something" in tactical terms means precisely an *advantage* in the actual fighting.  If being on that spot means instead being at a *disadvantage* (including an intel one e.g. the enemy is expecting you there), then no it is *not* tactically important.  It is instead a mere trap.

 

Tactically important objectives do things like allow you to shift into a defensive stance, cut up the enemy by fire lanes and thus restrict his movements, integrate your various arms and weapons, or allow you to achieve many on fews, or to chosen whether to engage or not by creating or cutting LOS by a short movement, and similar things.  Places that do this are important whether there are any flags planted on them or not.  Places that don't do any of these things are not tactically important, even if the designer plants a million magic mcguffins there.  If proper use of the tactically important bit lets you cheaply kill or paralyze the enemy force, then you can gather mcguffins after doing so.  If focus on imaginary flags (and have no doubt about it, all of those assigned importances are completely *imaginary*, compared to the smallest degree of real tactical importance) gets your force killed or leaves the enemy alive, it won't actually help.  Not in real war.

 

I completely understand that tons of people think that war is about ground control and following orders and accomplishing a mission to reach a certain spot by a certain hour, whatever the cost.  But I am telling them, and you, and anyone who will listen, that that whole understanding of war is just completely mistaken.  Terrain importance arises for reasons of the interaction of the terrain with the operating variables of the various true military strategies, attritionist or maneuverist.  It is not an additional element besides those.  Men who don't understand those systems or what they try to accomplish, or how they work when they work, try to short cut that lack of understanding by substituting things like ground control and fulfilling the higher commander's plans (whether that was sensible in the slightest or not), which amount to hoping that someone else is thinking about the war, so they don't need to.  When you know what the whole strategy is, how it works all the way up the chain, you know which of the microactions available truly support and further it and which do not.

 

Tying the enemy in knots does support the maneuverist strategy and what it is trying to accomplish, and movement is critical to that.  But ground control is ministerial to that purpose, not the other way around.  Advancing relentlessly straight over the enemy in a command push manner is indeed a basic starting method or initial attack plan in the attritionist strategy, and that strategy may well focus on hitting enemy strength rather than weakness.  But that strategy works by killing the enemy, and the hitting him where he is, is above all a matter of fire, and concentrating said fire on the most promising targets.  It is not a matter of trying to take a hill simply because the enemy put a lot of defenders on it.  It works by sending shells first, and bodies only where the enemy is expected to now be weak rather than ready, because first heavily shelled.  It views the forward positions of the enemy as opportunities because there he is exposed and can be reached by our weapons.  In that whole strategy, that our own men go stand there is completely secondary.  The attritionist strategy views any place where the enemy cannot stand without being annihilated by our fires as owned by us - not the places where our men are standing.  That the two sometimes overlap is simply a byproduct of infantry having great firepower at very close range.

Absolutely nobody is arguing that you should seize a hill just because the enemy has placed defenders on it. We are arguing that you might take said hill even at a tactical disadvantage because it will create tactical advantage in the future, or because it creates a operational or strategic advantage either now or later. To that end, a scenario designers choice of a victory point on the map does not need to be of tactical significance to justify capturing it as a definition of victory. 

 

 

 

What you are still not getting is the killing the enemy IS NOT the goal. Taking terrain IS NOT the goal. There is only one goal: win. If that sounds vague, its because its supposed to. The victory conditions of every battle in every war are different. They take into account politics, attrition, terrain, time, and any other endless number of factors. Over emphasizing some singular formula for victory is a recipe for defeat. 

 

Wars are not fought for their own sake unless you are some sort of pacific islander tribe. We fight them for things like "terrain" or "morals" or "resources" etc etc etc. To that end, kill the enemy, or take his terrain, as much as I need to to win. No more, no less. 

 

If someone invades my nation, my goal is to repel them. Maybe I push onwards into his nation, or maybe I dont. But I dont have to annihilate his army to win. If I only want to control my own land, then I need only push him out and then sit on my haunches and defend till he gives up. If I am the invader and he has more manpower or industry than I, I may very well need to come close to annihilating his force to win. And we could come up with different situations with different definitions of victory and different methods to achieve those ends all day long. 

 

Even if I focus on the enemy army, It would be sheer lunacy to set out to pulverize said army for its own sake. Like I said earlier, in that scenario my goal isnt absolute destruction of his forces. It is far more likely his army will be defeated because his situation becomes untenable, not because I wiped him off the face of the earth. Very, very, few battles have resulted in complete destruction of forces. My goal is to force checkmate, not kill every piece on the board. I only kill the enemies I need to do this. 

 

I would bloody well love to see you ignore orders on the battlefield as a commander of some sort. See how well that fly's in any army. It wont. 

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Since some time I am reading this forum with much interest and play CM since the CMBO days. This is the most informative thread so far and I have deep respect for the knowledge displayed here. Thank you all.

Concerning terrain VL I think, that a scenario can be set up and played like a chess game (CMFI has some), but for me, there is much more fun, when a good briefing gives it an operational context and a PURPOSE and that perfectly fits to a terrain objective.

Imagine, your battalion has the order to block a road to close a huge pocket filled with enemy forces. The objective is not to neutralize the last enemy formation between you and the road, rather to find a bypass or an efficient way through this formation.

The objective is the road in operational context. I enjoy objectives with purpose.

Henning

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Since some time I am reading this forum with much interest and play CM since the CMBO days. This is the most informative thread so far and I have deep respect for the knowledge displayed here. Thank you all.

Concerning terrain VL I think, that a scenario can be set up and played like a chess game (CMFI has some), but for me, there is much more fun, when a good briefing gives it an operational context and a PURPOSE and that perfectly fits to a terrain objective.

Imagine, your battalion has the order to block a road to close a huge pocket filled with enemy forces. The objective is not to neutralize the last enemy formation between you and the road, rather to find a bypass or an efficient way through this formation.

The objective is the road in operational context. I enjoy objectives with purpose.

Henning

 

 

Superb first post!

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