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Mechanized Unload Sweet Spot

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As someone with no military experience, I have problems in CM about the use of APCs/IFVs. My particular problem is when is it a good time to unload your infantry in battle? Currently I wait until the first shot goes off and smoke immediately to unload my infantry. Sometime this shot is a rocket/missile that could take out an infantry carrying vehicle with a squad still inside. I'm thinking there has to be a better way.

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In RL one would need vehicles to transport leg units for miles.  In the CM games, maps are relatively small - it's rare to see a map that it over a mile or so in length or width.  In the game, one can usually have inf dismounted and moved by foot where you want them to go and use the vehicles on overwatch/support.  

The armored transports are useful to protect inf when enemy arty is falling, (or if you need to run a gauntlet of small arms fire).  Players like to keep armored vehicles within one WEGO FAST move distance of their inf.  But, generally that's only good if one is sure there are no enemy weapons that can hit the vehicles.

Generally, in the game it's best to use dismounted inf split into scouts to recon the area first to ensure no enemy heavy weapons can be brought to bear, and to destroy by artillery any enemy heavy weapons that are spotted.  Only then should one move IFV's and APC's into that area (with or without mounted troops).  

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This is actually a core tactical question, and one which does not have a best answer.

Doctrines differ, but the general advice with any transport (be that halftracks, bradleys or trucks) is to dismount out of sight of the enemy, and proceed on foot. The vehicles in a tactical sense are there to redeploy quickly, possibly across otherwise open ground, and to provide protection against unexpected fires (especially mortars).

That's useful as a default tactic for all transport vehicles, in all eras.

Where this gets complex is when you start sticking guns on them.

Your basic APC (say, the British FV432, or the US WW2 halftracks) are fulfilling the same role as unarmoured trucks, with a little more protection against unexpected fires. That's one extreme, and should be used as the above. The MG in this case is not intended to be used as a fighting platform - it's a defensive tool and one mostly of desperation. It can be used in support, typically from a hull down position, but it's rarely a great idea and should never be the primary plan.

The other extreme are the varying models of BMP in CMSF and CMBS. These carry a ton of firepower and weapon systems, to the extent that they severely limit the abilities of the attached squad. In these cases, the IFV is supposed to be used as part of the squad, and therefore has to be exposed. This doctrine has some significant and obvious disadvantages, but does mean that the Russian-type squads have a significant advantage in firepower over their equivalent.

Example of this. Note that the BMP and squad elements are in covered positions.


BMPs have firing slits, so the squad can fight mounted, but really shouldn't. That's useful in an NBC environment, which doesn't apply here.

In Afghanistan, new tactics were developed, of dismounting the troops and combining the vehicles into a flanking/support fire unit. That will be stronger tactic against irregular forces, which lack the amount of AT weaponry that a conventional army will have.

Bradleys in CMSF are a bit of an outlier - they match up well against pretty much everything in the Syrian arsenal. The troops should still not engage in a fight mounted, but you can afford to be much bolder with your transport vehicles in that game. That's pretty much unique to that setting though - they're not as scary in Black Sea.

Strykers in particular are useful for their electronics and networking. Paying attention to C2 links and using them as communication hubs can be very important, but this can be done with minimal or zero exposure of the actual vehicle.

So... think of it as a spectrum, with unarmoured trucks at one end, and BMPs at the other, with all other APCs and IFVs in between. If you never use the weapons of a Bradley, BMP or Warrior, then you're wasting a resource. On the other hand, the more you expose them, the more you're risking the resource. The IFV concept has this dilemma at it's core, and it's not a problem with a clear solution.

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Keep your IFV  in cover - try not to lead with them UNLESS you know different.

Combat recce - so attempting to unmask enemy firing positions is key. How to do this - depends - ideally use infantry but this can be slow - some maps are pretty large 4 x 5km + so grunts creeping about will take a while. So use vehicles but in pairs. Recce by fire or observation but always with someone observing from a  covered position to ID any firers.

This will help give you some idea of how you kmight use your infantry - attack mounted or dismount under cover - generally close terrain you'd dismount open terrain you migth choose to remain mounted but keep em under cover.

If you must move stuff into possible LOF then do so under covering/suppression fire (other units/arty etc) and or smoke; and do so in short bounds using FAST.


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Another example of a doctrinal attack, this with a Bradley platoon:



Scale here is to dismount about 2km from the objective, outside of the range of RPGs and the like, but within range of the 25mm. The dismounts are dismounted early, and make use of their ability to use close terrain to move up on the target, whilst the Bradleys and artillery provide smoke and supporting fires.

You'll note in both of the above examples that particular care is taken to protect the vehicles. They both offer significant and useful firepower, but need to be used extremely carefully to get anything useful out of them.

Edited by domfluff
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In general, that distance is important. 2km is a long way, especially on a CM battlefield. In the WW2 titles, the german halftracks have an MG behind a gun shield, which is far more effective when placed ~1000m away from their target - the distance limits return fire and increases the effective angle that the shield protects.

In CM terms then, IFVs tend to be effective as support assets, hull down, and as part of a fire plan.

In general I find myself dismounting much later with Russian-type assets then I do with Western ones. Part of that is the lack of man-portable radios in CMSF - the squads rely on the BMP for that, and if they're dismounted then they're cut off. Aside from seeking hull down positions, the main safety net which BMPs have are their exceptional firepower - this is (again) muddled in CMSF, since the Syrians mostly use older kit, but easier to see by comparing the BMP-3 to the Bradley - the former will explode violently if you glare at it, but it can pour out fire and suppress anything that's vaguely likely to have infantry inside.

Dismounting is always a die roll - you can never be 100% sure there's no small arms targeting your dismount location, since your visibility will always be worse when mounted up. This applies double for BMPs, since their vision is terrible, but it's also the reason why you need to lean on their radios far more.

Smoke is handy to cover dismounts if there is no suitable cover. Popping the smoke, then rushing to set up MGs such that if there is to be an immediate firefight, you'll have the best chance of winning it.

Western smoke is defensive, and Russian-type smoke is offensive - it will fire significantly forward of the ifv's position. Again, this is to cover the infantry advance onto the target, which means that I often find myself engaging with the BMPs whilst mounted (from behind cover, and at range), then dismount to actually fight to the objective. That way I feel like I'm maximising both my BMP firepower and offensive smoke charges, to give my comparatively weak infantry the best shot at it.

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I suspect the dismount 2km away will be a function of terrain and what you reckon the opposition has in terms of anti-armour capability?

It's a bit harder in modern stuff as there is so much more out there both vehicle platforms and infantry carried that can reach out and kill you. I still prefer keeping my troops mounted and their rides in cover until I know for 'sure' (not a guarantee!) until I have a better sense of what I am facing. This at least provides some cover from arty - they can quickly bug out if they come under arty fire and mobility which means I can move them to where I need them.

The whole dismounting thing is, I think, when you have a sense of what you are facing and are committing to the attack to seize an objective (as you example shows - infantry make good use of close terrain to close with objective, IFvs stand-oof to make best use of their on-board armament to engage objective with supporting fires.

Ultimately terrain and what assets the enemy has will dictate what you do. Mobility is a weapon too!

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it depends.

Over the years, I have gone back and forth, from:

1. dismounting as soon as possible and walking my troops, but that takes a lot of time and may increase infantry casualties; to

2. dismounting as late as possible, sometimes on the very edge of the objective, but that can lead to disaster.

I now use a more balanced approach, unloading some 500-1,000 meters away, keeping the AFVs close to provide fire support, keeping other troops mounted farther back ready to swoop in as required.

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Bradley IFVs used to come festooned with infantry firing ports... until the Pentagon realized what a BAD IDEA that was. Bradley now has one remaining firing port in the rear ramp - and no squad weapon capable of using it (unless there's a spare M231 firing port weapon laying about).

Learning CM combat tactics reminds me of the old Henny Youngman joke. A patient says, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." The doctor says, "Then don't do that!"

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Interesting thing about that M231 pistol port weapon . It fired full auto at 1200 rounds per minute, all tracer rounds, with no ability to aim the weapon. I've seen a few semi-recent photos of vehicle crews carrying them as a personal side-arm. Apparently , if jumped they'd unload a full 40 round clip in 2 second in the general direction of the threat.

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