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Syrian/Russian Mech Inf Recon Platoon correct usage? (Spoilers for "Perdition" campaign).

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Spoilers below for the old Perdition campaign for CMSF 1, since it illustrates a point quite well.

A Syrian and Russian Mechanised infantry battalion contains a single "recon platoon". This consists of two BMPs, two four man recon squads, an HQ squad (with SVD sniper rifle), and an ATGM - in this case an AT-4A.



This Red vs Red campaign (made by Paper Tiger) is a good example of the situation I'm puzzling over, so I'm going to spoil part of the first scenario of the campaign.

In this scenario, you're given the above to start with. There's an obvious area to leave the FO (with access to multiple 120mm mortar batteries), labelled as "Point 194" to the bottom of the below image.

You're also given the above recon platoon, and tasked with finding the locations of the ATGMs overlooking the valley. Your follow-on T-62s and BMPs will ostensibly have to follow the road to the right, leading them into a kill zone. Even if you didn't follow the road, you're still going to be exposed to wherever the ATGMs are.

This is where the ATGMs are, 1km way on facing hillcrests.



The question is, how is the Recon platoon supposed to be used? They have no man portable radios, and limited access to advanced optics (you have the sniper scope and the AT-4A, and otherwise binoculars).

You're tasked with using this recon platoon to discover the locations of the enemy ATGMs, so that your FO can put down mortar fire onto them. You're also tasked with not wasting them, since they're a valuable asset. 

What's the doctrinal method here? It can't be "go that way until you blow up", surely?

It feels like a single recon platoon for a battalion should be a tactical, aggressive asset - being active and getting their face into danger, but using their firepower to pull themselves out. I'm not sure how this is intended to work in a world with no drones or javelin optics, since surely the AT-14s will spot you long before you spot them, all else being equal? Are you supposed to recon-by-fire and guess the locations?

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I have not play the campaign you mentioned . There isn't too many red campaign in CMSF 1 world.  Besides this scenario, I know there is another scenario put spotlight on Red recon platoon. Scenario 2 on "Road to Dinas" campaign. A Mech Recon plt ID the government force's reinforcement before the scenario start, now it is time to delay their armor reinforcement's schedule and get the f**k out.

There were similar discussion on recon topic,  I think long time ago the conclusion was scouts units and their mission doesn't fit into CM's scope very well 

I guess in this particular CM scenario , " watch your guys get blew up" is the best way to find the unknown ATGM position .





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See, that's what confuses me - the BRDM-equipped recon company (a higher level formation) looks more logical to me for pure observation - you've small vehicles, with high visibility, and a disproportionate amount of fire to get you out of trouble.

More importantly, the BRDM recon company has two platoons of BRDMs, each of which has an HQ unit with a radio. Clearly then, this can observe mounted or unmounted. The company HQ doesn't carry a radio, so he has to hang around his vehicle, but that's fine.

(What does confuse me here is that the BRDM company is full of RPG-7 ammo, and doesn't have any RPGs, but shrug).

The singular recon platoon in a mechanised battalion seems like it's set up to perform a different job, especially since it has an embedded ATGM. One ATGM won't stop any serious enemy movement, but might over-match enough to get you out of trouble.

So... my guess is that the intention is for this to be used for a recon-in-force - along previously observed routes, but before risking the main bulk of the attack. This way, they'd be used boldly, relying on the firepower of the BMPs and ATGMs to get them out of trouble if and when they find it.

But I have no idea if that's correct, or if that represents the doctrinal intent of the formation.


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Actually, I think I've answered my question -

Based on a few sources ("The Russian Way of War", "Blinding the Enemy: Soviet Tactical Reconnaissance in the Rear Area", and a couple more I've randomly dug up from the internet), it looks as though the battalion recon platoon is assigned on a fairly ad-hoc basis from the available infantry.

Tactical reconnaissance then seems to have three main categories - observation, ambush and recon-in-force.

Observation is something anyone with a pair of eyes or binoculars can do, strictly. This formation won't be terribly good at it, since they don't have man-portable radios, but it's a lot better than nothing.

Ambush is where that ATGM really makes sense - being able to head fast and deep into the field and setting up an unexpected threat like that (and then packing it up once you've triggered the ambush) makes a lot of sense.

Recon in force is the other part, and represents the kind of risky, bold approach mentioned above. 

The recon platoon, then, is not a disposable asset, but it's a high-risk job. I think they're supposed to head out fast and deep, and encounter the enemy head-on, forcing a response. The intention is hit-and-run.

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FYI, BRDM Rec company should have some ATGM version BRDM in the units too

OK, I am speaking from my memory so I could be totally wrong on this

http://i257.photobucket.com/albums/hh240/andyrix/Soviets/Advanced Guard/Slide2_zpstxuv4qr2.jpgSlide2_zpstxuv4qr2.jpg

IRL, the Recon Platoon boarding on IFV should come from the Rec Battalion (Bn.) assigned to Regiment (Regt.) . A regular Mech Inf Bn usually don't have a Recon Plt in its OOB, they can build their own recon plt by their own.  The dedicated Rec Plt is the backbone of combat recon patrol or forward attachment, these are important parts in Soviet doctrine.  Different units in Soviet military has different task based on doctrine, but Soviets is doing their best to mix individual units into a dual-task TF.   

In combat recon patrol you will need some boots on the ground ahead of the formation, some target to let the enemy to shoot at :). The task force should be strong enough to drive away enemy recon, it can also be used to ID enemy main resistance position if other recon element failed to do so.  The recon plt on IFV should be able to carry out this task independently, but no surprise if it is reinforced with a tank plt.

In forward attachment task the rec plt will be part of the task force, built with tanks, Inf, AT, engineer, NBC and artillery observation units. They are going to assign some important task, like capture a bridge, strike enemy HQ position.


And Soviets believe due to the natural of maneuver warfare , the attacking and defensing could change rapidly. That is the reason why their recon element has ATGM in their organization since 1960's, at that time period American scouts were still riding on M113 and shooting with M16, we Chinese recon were still practicing shooting target 600m away with a type 56 SAR (SKS) :) . Since the recon element will be the first to contact with enemy counter attack force, Soviets believe its recon has the responsibility to slow down the enemy's counter attack. So that the main body have the time and space to transfer from a road marching formation into a defense formation.  Whether by Ambush or by head to head fight, the decision lays in the Recon force commanding officer's hands.








Edited by Chibot Mk IX
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32 minutes ago, Chibot Mk IX said:

BTW, is the scenario you mentioned come from "The Road to Dinas" campaign ?    

Nah, Paper Tiger did a three mission campaign called Perdition, as well as the 15 mission Road to Dinas (and tons more, obviously).

Link here, if you want it: https://file.io/u91Chh

Edited by domfluff
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1 hour ago, Chibot Mk IX said:


FYI, BRDM Rec company should have some ATGM version BRDM in the units too

OK, I am speaking from my memory so I could be totally wrong on this (...)

Thank you for this, this makes a lot of sense. 

In terms of the CMSF 2 TO&E:

Under Mechanised Infantry, there's a "Recon Company" and a "Recon Company BRDM", both representing detachments from the recon battalion, I believe.

Recon Company is an HQ unit in a BMP, and two platoon as the above (2 BMPS, 2 recon squads, 1 HQ, 1 ATGM). The difference here is that all of the HQs have man-carried radios, which, combined with having an HQ unit in common, makes them far more useful for passing around spotting contacts through C2 links.

Recon Company BRDM is the above BRDM unit, 1 BRDM HQ and two platoons of 3 BRDMs, with 1x HQ, 2x recon squads, with HQ radios.

There's also a "Self propelled ATGM Platoon", which is an HQ recon BRDM, and three of the ATGM BRDM's with AT-5s (all of these are BRDM-2's). That's clearly from the same upper formation, which isn't depicted at CM scale, but obviously can work with that (either by adding single vehicles, or the whole platoon).

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2 hours ago, domfluff said:

Nah, Paper Tiger did a three mission campaign called Perdition, as well as the 15 mission Road to Dinas (and tons more, obviously).

Link here, if you want it: https://file.io/u91Chh

Thank you for the link.

Thank god, a different campaign. I am in the middle of Road to Dinas, so I thought I shouldn't read this thread until I finish that campaign.


Some of the operational level wargame should have better simulation on these recon assets. (like FCRS , Command Ops etc).  Sun Tzu said " Victory is decided before the battle is fought" , CM is focus on the battle, the last step before the victory. And we really enjoy that, recon is boring. But I know a talent scenario author can create some fantastic recon scenario , the decision and outcome will influence the whole campaign.

for example I love the scenario 2 in road to Dinas campaign created by Paper Tiger.  The Rebel made a breakthrough in Scenario 1, government's force sent a company of T-72 to the front line.  Operating deep behind the contact line,  rebel 's recon company knew the government's tanks are approaching . They decided to capture a key point , a hill next to the highway, setup an ambush. One dead T-72 means one less T-72 in Scenario 3.  PT asked the player to hit cease fire before government force capture another hill. This is to simulate a withdraw before government force establish the LOS on rebel's retreat route.  I love that one.



Edited by Chibot Mk IX
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Go back to topic ,

CM is about the tactical solution.   What to do to make the ATGM position exposed , my answer is , make them shoot, and you survive.

Note many people may consider this as a very gamey move.  As a former starcraft player, I am following a South Korea style , "micromanagement is the solution to every problem" 


Here is the screenshot of my last CMBS PBEM game, I create a combo of different command. The purpose is simple, make the BMP-3 fire a HE before the Javelin finish the lock (15 seconds). 

so fast to one place, stop for 10s, shoot , reverse. then repeat.


Maybe you can do the same thing with AT-14. Make dismount get into the observation position ,  move one BMP forward , exposed for 10s , then reverse back. AT-14 may need 5s-10s to finish the aim , then the distance will cost ATGM another 5s to reach the target. By that time your BMP may have already reach the safe place, so the ATGM will lost target and crash to the ground.

Edited by Chibot Mk IX
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Thank you. 

Obviously the question of a specific solution, versus a generalised "correct" one is a different one.

My actual solution to the problem assumed that the correct way about this was to be bold, and to use the platoon to "attack" the left hill, and if there was anyone there, they'd make contact, find out what they could, then break.

Route in:

The "South Yard" is the only viable covered rally point, so that's where the "run" part of hit-and-run is going.

At the orchard, using the low walls as cover for the low BMPs. Started to pick up contacts,  which the BMPs opened fire on.


Progressing the attack across the orchard and finding some AT-14's.


The nice thing about the Russian smoke launchers is that the BMPs can cover the retreat of the recon platoon - their smoke will travel forward enough to give them cover.

Obviously, this is accepting a large amount of risk for that asset, but it does give a very good picture of what forces are actually present. I think this kind of thing might actually be the way the asset is intended to be used, but that was the question really - what's the intended purpose of the infantry battalion recon platoon.

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