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Fire suppression from small arms discussion


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As a retired Light Infantry Platoon Sergeant and Sniper with 28 years of service to include several combat tours, this has got to be one of the more interesting threads I've read on a gaming site in e

Oh, shove it. If someone sees that the topic is about suppression from small arms, that's the discussion they should see when they open the topic - not a bunch of grumblings about health insurance and

Fatigue has no effect on a units accuracy or on its morale state regardless if the current morale state is as a result from either Combat Stress or Combat Shock or a combination of both. Fatigue

On 1/7/2018 at 5:46 AM, JSj said:

(Admin note! - an offhanded comment about a fix coming in 2018 generated quite an off-topic discussion in the 2018 thread.  I moved it here as its own new thread)

Actually, accuracy is what matters when it comes to suppression, not rate of fire. There is a study done on this, I have not managed to find a link to the article online, so I have attached the PDF here.

The real role of small arms in combat.pdf 415.19 kB · 155 downloads

This study sounds very flawed. It sounds like they had visible targets they were trying to suppress and the simulator lowered the target if the shot(s) are close enough.

So, some points;

1. It seems their ‘suppression algorithm’ is kind of made up. Where is the scientific basis to what results in suppression? In a firefight auditory exclusion and tunnel vision are common. In this state a target might not even know rounds are whipping by in close proximity.

2. If you see the target you shoot to kill it. What this study seems to show that if you miss close enough the target is suppressed. If you can see the target and you are in the effective range of your weapon system you should be killing the target (hitting it) not suppressing it. You don’t suppress visible targets, you destroy them. You suppress enemy positions or suspected positions but if you have a visible target you take well aimed rounds to kill it. This study seems to promote the idea that several ‘close’ (misses) rounds are better than one well aimed hit. That’s a bad idea. It’s like the old ‘how many times do you shoot an enemy soldier’. You shoot them until they are not visible or they have been clearly eliminated as a threat.

2. Ok, one LMG is more accurate than another, big deal. Rate and volume of fire are a factor. Say your company is attacking an unseen platoon in a tree line. You know they are there but you do not have a clear target. If you have a clear target see para 1 above. So you let loose with the mgs. To the guy in the tree line that just got sprayed by a 100 round belt, he doesn’t care about the 99 bullets that didn’t come near him. He cares about the one that kicked up dirt right next to his head.

3. Trying to simulate para 2, did they have 30 of these sensors hidden in a tree line? Sounds like they didn’t. Trying to determine suppression with one guy firing at one target is worthless. And if the target is visible you kill it. 

It really seems like they are talking about individual marksmanship and giving suppression credit for multiple near misses. The goal is to shoot the enemy when they present a visible target not miss and keep them pinned after they take cover. In the study these are not dynamic targets; if you ‘suppress’ them they stay in the same spot. They don’t low crawl to the flank and roll your trench up with grenades ‘Band of Brothers’ style.

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Suppression from fire can be related inversely to the experience of the soldier. In WWII NW Europe on the American side it was usually the green replacements who charged forward like John Wayne and as a result they took the bulk of the casualties. It was the core of veteran infantry who better knew when to keep their heads down, nestle behind a terrain feature and pick their shots carefully. Many decades ago I worked with an old former WWII jungle fighter. He had one anecdote about a platoon dug into foxholes on the front line on a dark night. At one point a silhouette of a Japanese soldier was spotted in the darkness going from foxhole to foxhole peering in to see if each was inhabited. The interesting thing was nobody shot him. Why? Because the G.I.s in the holes knew if they suddenly fired their weapon in the dead of night they'd spook everyone around them and attract a blizzard of blind fire from both sides. Taking the shot would have brought unwanted consequences so they let the guy pass by. A green soldier would've probably shot him.

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5 hours ago, MikeyD said:

Many decades ago I worked with an old former WWII jungle fighter. He had one anecdote about a platoon dug into foxholes on the front line on a dark night. At one point a silhouette of a Japanese soldier was spotted in the darkness going from foxhole to foxhole peering in to see if each was inhabited. The interesting thing was nobody shot him. Why? Because the G.I.s in the holes knew if they suddenly fired their weapon in the dead of night they'd spook everyone around them and attract a blizzard of blind fire from both sides. Taking the shot would have brought unwanted consequences so they let the guy pass by. A green soldier would've probably shot him.

This one is almost as good as the one about Harley Davidson producing artillery shells :D

Keep them coming...

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  • 4 months later...

As a retired Light Infantry Platoon Sergeant and Sniper with 28 years of service to include several combat tours, this has got to be one of the more interesting threads I've read on a gaming site in eons. There have been some great points made by several people, and it has been very interesting to read all the differing views and opinions, as well as the shared ones. I also have enjoyed how it all relates to CM. Great stuff!

Some general points of consideration regarding combat and firefights that I would like to make in relation to this topic:

1) Most times in a firefight, there is so much noise that it's very hard to hear near misses. You might know you are being shot at by dirt and debris being chipped at you by near misses, but many times you won't hear it due to the multiple, loud weapons being fired, Soldiers and Leaders shouting out orders, and information on the enemy. It's chaotic and loud.

2) As far as U.S. Infantry training goes, when enemy fire is received, the SOP is to take cover and return fire. Almost always 'take cover' means fall prone, and then seek to improve your 'cover' position. For example, you are prone and returning fire, but there is a nice fat tree five feet to your left that would make better cover. You do what you can to move to it, usually by crawling. 

3) Usually, when a firefight starts, there is an initial round of firing, people hit the dirt, and then people start yelling. For the trained U.S. Infantry, that means enemy identification. As an example, it might sound like this "Contact 1100, 3oo meters, squad size". The direction is important obviously, as it alerts the formation to the general direction of contact as well as the distance. The element size is purely an initial estimate to give leaders an idea what they are up against. Of course this whole contact statement gets echoed back down the formation so that teams and squads at the back of the formation know whats going on. Also, it gets refined as the firefight goes on. As you can see, this equals lots and lots of yelling. Add in to that calls for medics, special weapons teams to deploy, new enemy sightings on the flanks or, Heaven forbid, in the rear, and one can quickly see how chaotic it can get. And then there are all the weapons firing and explosions. Like I said, chaos. 

4) Now, all that said, the mark of an experienced and/or well trained unit will handle that chaos much better. That is why SOP's are tantamount to success. When bullets start flying, Warfighters have to react without thinking, for best success. LOTS of time is spent training and practicing on initial contact with the enemy. It is the basic building block for all other Infantry training and operations. How your unit reacts to initial contact can make or break your unit.

5) I must absolutely agree with those above that said you shoot what you can see, and you suppress what you cannot see but suspect might be there. Also, as a trained and experienced sniper, I will always be of the mindset that well placed, accurate single shots are more effective at taking a target out then suppressive fire. But, suppressive fire has it's place. When an Infantry platoon is conducting a standard platoon attack on an objective, and you are in the Assault Element, you definitely want that suppressive fire to be hosing the objective before your assault begins, and then following in front of you as you assault across the obj. When the enemy is keeping their heads down from the barrage of M240 and M249 fire as well as some 40mm grenade fire mixed in, a trained designated marksman or sniper can more easily pick off specific targets on the obj, especially as the assault element is moving across. When all this is executed by an experienced unit, it is a thing of beauty. 

 

Anyhow, some general thoughts. I could talk about this topic for hours and days, but hopefully I've made some salient points. 

 

Cheers!

Edited by Sniper31
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I vaguely recall a survey conducted shortly after(?) WWII. One factor in infantry not using their weapon in combat was a fear of running themselves out of ammo and being defenseless at the worst possible moment. They were reluctant to waste rounds on shots that had marginal chance of hitting anything. CM players experience this from both sides. Either nobody is willing to take long range shots at the enemy plinking at them, or everybody fires together on a single target, burning through their munitions, while you yell at the screen  'DON'T RUN YOURSELVES OUT OF AMMO!' The start of a scenario often feels quite different from the end of a scenario. By the end a lot of units will be down to their last few rounds and are no longer profligate wasters of ammo

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14 hours ago, Sniper31 said:

2) As far as U.S. Infantry training goes, when enemy fire is received, the SOP is to take cover and return fire. Almost always 'take cover' means fall prone, and then seek to improve your 'cover' position.

I wish this were better modelled in the game. Even when using HUNT orders, it often takes a very long time for infantry to go prone when fired upon. 

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17 hours ago, MikeyD said:

I vaguely recall a survey conducted shortly after(?) WWII. One factor in infantry not using their weapon in combat was a fear of running themselves out of ammo and being defenseless at the worst possible moment. They were reluctant to waste rounds on shots that had marginal chance of hitting anything. CM players experience this from both sides. Either nobody is willing to take long range shots at the enemy plinking at them, or everybody fires together on a single target, burning through their munitions, while you yell at the screen  'DON'T RUN YOURSELVES OUT OF AMMO!' The start of a scenario often feels quite different from the end of a scenario. By the end a lot of units will be down to their last few rounds and are no longer profligate wasters of ammo

To add to this, I think supply issues are usually understated in most Armies and many men were usually marching around with a few rounds, not their assigned allotment. So yeah unless they happened to be within about 50 paces of a clear target they weren't going to just mag dump on a shadow.

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1 hour ago, SimpleSimon said:

To add to this, I think supply issues are usually understated in most Armies and many men were usually marching around with a few rounds, not their assigned allotment. So yeah unless they happened to be within about 50 paces of a clear target they weren't going to just mag dump on a shadow.

I can't speak for combat periods before the 1990's, but I can say that for the U.S. Army Infantry from Desert Shield/Storm on to the present, we carry LOTS of ammo. Hard lessons learned from WWII, Korea and Vietnam. During my period of service, the basic combat load of ammunition for a rifleman was 210 rounds, and most times it would be doubled. I cannot remember exactly the loadout for SAW gunners and M240 gunners, but in combat, in my experience, our gunners always had an abundance of ammo. Now, even so, in Afghanistan re-supply is much harder than other theaters, and it was not uncommon to burn through much of that ammo quickly, if not careful. Fire discipline is another skill we trained on A LOT. There is a time for 'recon by fire' methods, but those are usually very specific situations. Also, I can say that even in modern times, from the many personnel I talked to in other types of support units, ammo wasn't always as plentiful as it was for us in the Infantry. Lastly, the old addage of you can never have too much ammo is very true in combat. Very true.

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Pretty sure that was normal for American and British forces from 1943 onwards too. The British suffered acute arms shortages into 1942 though. Just the year prior the garrison on Crete was short rifles, and many men were at the front with no weapons at all. An invasion of the island was fully expected once Greece was invaded as well. 

I know that for Italy's meticulously planned invasion of Yugoslavia it still reached Mussolini that the Italian Army had a critical shortfall of footwear let alone modern weapons. Even some of the nominally "modern" combatants like Germany suffered acute ammunition crisis, the one after Poland was so bad it probably convinced Hitler not to attack France the same year. The Luftwaffe and Army still hadn't replenished stocks by May of 1940 either. (Only combat or on-hand loads had been replenished.) 

Trouble is Armies in the early 20th century tended to mass mobilize, placing millions of men into uniform and service immediately was an impossible prospect for the transport and logistics infrastructure of many countries. Some of the combatant nations were suffering from various widespread shortages during peace let alone wartime. It's not an exaggeration to say that many thousands of men were stationed at frontlines across the world in 1941 without so much as a bayonet, and even envied a good pair of boots and rations that weren't toxic. 

Edited by SimpleSimon
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  • 1 month later...

Sniper31, 

During Barbarossa, Grossdeutschland did NOT have fire discipline and in fact, fired with such wild abandon it used up all its ammo. Disgusted, higher left the Regiment effectively unarmed through a very long night in enemy territory before remunitioning it the next day. Thereafter, GD was a model of fire discipline.

Regards,

John Kettler

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