Jump to content

Artillery suggestion: "At My Command" option


Recommended Posts

In the artillery world we have many different "modifiers" we can add on to a fire mission to tweak it for whatever the situation requires. One of the most common is "at my command" which is exactly how it sounds. The guns will range in on a certain spot (adjust if necessary from a spotter, if TRP or known point this shouldn't be required) and wait for the FDC's fire control officer to give the order to fire the mission. Right now in CM all we can do is add a certain amount of time until a mission starts which isn't always desirable. I figured this might be a reasonably simple change that would be a major improvement for artillery.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, AttorneyAtWar said:

In the artillery world we have many different "modifiers" we can add on to a fire mission to tweak it for whatever the situation requires. One of the most common is "at my command" which is exactly how it sounds. The guns will range in on a certain spot (adjust if necessary from a spotter, if TRP or known point this shouldn't be required) and wait for the FDC's fire control officer to give the order to fire the mission. Right now in CM all we can do is add a certain amount of time until a mission starts which isn't always desirable. I figured this might be a reasonably simple change that would be a major improvement for artillery.

That would be great if a battery is solely dedicated to support your particular unit, but in the case of divisional artillery that is unlikely to be the case since multiple units may need access to that asset.  If the player can just have the divisional artillery sitting around waiting for twenty minutes for the player's unit to begin the FFE then some battalion at another (off map) location might get overrun because the artillery is just sitting around waiting for Fred to finally call his fire mission in.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, ASL Veteran said:

That would be great if a battery is solely dedicated to support your particular unit, but in the case of divisional artillery that is unlikely to be the case since multiple units may need access to that asset.  If the player can just have the divisional artillery sitting around waiting for twenty minutes for the player's unit to begin the FFE then some battalion at another (off map) location might get overrun because the artillery is just sitting around waiting for Fred to finally call his fire mission in.

Just to add to this, ASL V is correct, this is not how fire support works.  Perhaps Coy mortars and maybe even Bn organic fire support (but that is a stretch), everything above that gets fed into a Fire Support Coord Centre (different countries call it variations on this) where call for fire are coming in continuously and are prioritized and executed as quickly as possible.   The only exception would be for SOF but we are talking exceptional strategic missions.

Now in the future, I have heard talk of completely automating fire support (in all its forms) and having something like this is much more possible, particularly when we are talking an entirely all-PGM inventory.  In CM context this sort of thing would be beyond CMBS and probably into the 15-20 years from now timeframe (but there are differing opinions).  Next step after that are accurate predictive models (so AI based C4ISR) that basically plots the fire before the tactical commander even knows he/she needs it.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, The_Capt said:

Just to add to this, ASL V is correct, this is not how fire support works.  Perhaps Coy mortars and maybe even Bn organic fire support (but that is a stretch), everything above that gets fed into a Fire Support Coord Centre (different countries call it variations on this) where call for fire are coming in continuously and are prioritized and executed as quickly as possible.   The only exception would be for SOF but we are talking exceptional strategic missions.

Now in the future, I have heard talk of completely automating fire support (in all its forms) and having something like this is much more possible, particularly when we are talking an entirely all-PGM inventory.  In CM context this sort of thing would be beyond CMBS and probably into the 15-20 years from now timeframe (but there are differing opinions).  Next step after that are accurate predictive models (so AI based C4ISR) that basically plots the fire before the tactical commander even knows he/she needs it.  

I work in a brigade level TOC as a fire control specialist and I can assure you that "At My Command" is absolutely something we train with, one of the battle drills I did a few months ago involved it. Also "waiting for Fred" is extremely common for any fire mission, an FCO will always give the order to fire as far as I know, fire missions do not just go off whenever the guns are ready unless its an immediate suppression/immediate smoke mission. I understand that on a fluid battlefield you want your batteries to be flexible, but if we are talking main effort here holding a platoon of howitzers for 20 minutes is not crazy or unreasonable if the situation dictates it.

Edited by AttorneyAtWar
Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 minutes ago, AttorneyAtWar said:

I work in a brigade level TOC as a fire control specialist and I can assure you that "At My Command" is absolutely something we train with, one of the battle drills I did a few months ago involved it. Also "waiting for Fred" is extremely common for any fire mission, an FCO will always give the order to fire as far as I know, fire missions do not just go off whenever the guns are ready unless its an immediate suppression/immediate smoke mission. I understand that on a fluid battlefield you want your batteries to be flexible, but if we are talking main effort here holding a platoon of howitzers for 20 minutes is not crazy or unreasonable if the situation dictates it.

There may very well be instances within the context of an overall pre registered fire plan where the 'At My Command' order / mission might be appropriate (assuming a battle goes to plan).  However, CM doesn't have any pre registered fire plans in the game and the game has no context for any sort of 'At My Command' set of orders so if you just added that order without the context of a pre registered fire plan you would be adding something to every fire mission that isn't going to be representative of reality under all circumstances.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, ASL Veteran said:

There may very well be instances within the context of an overall pre registered fire plan where the 'At My Command' order / mission might be appropriate (assuming a battle goes to plan).  However, CM doesn't have any pre registered fire plans in the game and the game has no context for any sort of 'At My Command' set of orders so if you just added that order without the context of a pre registered fire plan you would be adding something to every fire mission that isn't going to be representative of reality under all circumstances.

Its also extremely unrealistic for a spotter to have to constantly correct a fire mission they just fired at a position, infact you shouldn't even have a spotting phase in most modern CM titles. CM has many abstractions relating to artillery that aren't completely accurate. And every time you delay a fire mission for a certain amount of time you are pre-registering a fire plan, especially if you use multiple batteries that you have available.

Edited by AttorneyAtWar
Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 minutes ago, AttorneyAtWar said:

Its also extremely unrealistic for a spotter to have to constantly correct a fire mission they just fired at a position, CM has many abstractions relating to artillery that aren't completely accurate. And every time you delay a fire mission for a certain amount of time you are pre-registering a fire plan, especially if you use multiple batteries that you have available.

Keep in mind the CM has multiple eras and if you are only thinking in terms of modern, then you should probably adjust your thinking because we are also talking about WW2 Soviet field artillery.  A Fire Plan in the context of CM would be something that was pre planned and pre registered prior to the start of an action / scenario / battle / whatever.  A Fire Plan is not 'created on the fly' by the player as he calls for FFEs during the course of a scenario.  Now, if you are calling a previous FFE as a 'Fire Plan' then yeah, maybe you should be able to call another fire mission on the same target if the battery is still available because they would still have the coordinates and the spotting rounds would have been already used, but that's not a Fire Plan in the context of something like the British created prior to attacking at El Alamein.  It would be helpful to use 'Fire Plan' in the context of the traditional meaning of 'Fire Plan'.  In the context of CM 'Repeat' is certainly something that could be argued, but at the same time since CM has no Fire Plans then the At My Command would still not necessarily be appropriate because the battery, not being assigned to a Fire Plan, can be assumed to have other missions to perform other than waiting for a player to repeat an FFE sometime within the next hour or something.  Hopefully artillery can get a rework in the future some day, but at the moment an At My Command artillery order is unlikely to be implemented sorry to say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, AttorneyAtWar said:

but if we are talking main effort here holding a platoon of howitzers for 20 minutes is not crazy or unreasonable if the situation dictates it.

Do not take this completely the wrong way but you are a product of your time.  Do not feel bad as I have to continually remind the current crop of officers at a staff college that they are as well.  It is also my fault for not qualifying the context.  You quote above speaks to where we are as modern militaries, completely overwhelming the current battlefields so that we can "hold a battery for 20 mins".  Our current way of warfare, which is about 30 years old has now become doctrine...it is also very dangerous to assume all warfare will nicely line up with it.    

In a high intensity peer fight, I am afraid we are going to have to re-learn a lot of lessons the hard way and this would be one of them.  In this case that battery of howitzers might be dead in 20 mins and any ideas of hold fire "on my command" will likely go out the window extremely fast once we are at parity or worse. 

So in context of the original posting, we are talking in CM (which you are correct has abstractions), so WW2, Cold War, fictional Syria (which is probably as close to the current thinking aligns), CMBS (to which we are not well aligned at all).  In all but Syria any idea of bottlenecking calls for fire when they are 1) likely to be quickly overwhelmed and 2) at threat of being knocked out,  is simply not realistic nor historical.

Don't worry, there will be hard lessons for everyone (e.g. Air Supremacy), or maybe we will get lucky and it will be small asymmetrical wars for awhile longer.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In general i'm in favor of an all-around overhaul of the support options so there are more parameters for fire plans. The system we have is mostly unchanged from....Shock Force 1 and is pretty reflective of its 2007ish design and thinking. Not necessarily sure we need something as granular as "at my command" though. You can have that more or less with TRPs and the Emergency Fire option which when combined are-some would argue-a bit broken even. Id personally prefer more options for stuff like mixed bombardments in one battery (smoke and HE), creeping barrage, and Target-Reference Zones or poly-customizable fire plans rather than just points.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, The_Capt said:

Do not take this completely the wrong way but you are a product of your time.  Do not feel bad as I have to continually remind the current crop of officers at a staff college that they are as well.  It is also my fault for not qualifying the context.  You quote above speaks to where we are as modern militaries, completely overwhelming the current battlefields so that we can "hold a battery for 20 mins".  Our current way of warfare, which is about 30 years old has now become doctrine...it is also very dangerous to assume all warfare will nicely line up with it.    

In a high intensity peer fight, I am afraid we are going to have to re-learn a lot of lessons the hard way and this would be one of them.  In this case that battery of howitzers might be dead in 20 mins and any ideas of hold fire "on my command" will likely go out the window extremely fast once we are at parity or worse. 

So in context of the original posting, we are talking in CM (which you are correct has abstractions), so WW2, Cold War, fictional Syria (which is probably as close to the current thinking aligns), CMBS (to which we are not well aligned at all).  In all but Syria any idea of bottlenecking calls for fire when they are 1) likely to be quickly overwhelmed and 2) at threat of being knocked out,  is simply not realistic nor historical.

Don't worry, there will be hard lessons for everyone (e.g. Air Supremacy), or maybe we will get lucky and it will be small asymmetrical wars for awhile longer.

 

Ok, I'm going to ignore all the talking down you did to me and simply say that your opinion on whether or not a command like AMC is a good idea in a peer-peer conflict means nothing. The reality is is that its a tool we use in the modern US Army for fires and I think it would be a good idea to include in CM to increase artillery flexibility in the modern titles.

 

Edited by AttorneyAtWar
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, AttorneyAtWar said:

your opinion on whether or not a command like AMC is a good idea in reality means nothing. The reality is is that its a tool we use in the modern US Army for fires and I think it would be a good idea to include in CM to increase artillery flexibility in the modern titles

Well I would argue it means something as far as CMCW is concerned and we won't be seeing it in that title or that era because it simply was not, nor is not realistic in that timeframe.  Was not "talking down" to be honest...was trying to educate but like most in the younger generation I am sure you guys have it all figured out and history offers you little (ok, that last part was talking down a bit).

I had a boss a long time ago that said, "there is nothing more dangerous than a one war military"...he noted France after WWI as the prime example.  The problem was (and is) that once a military becomes enamored with one type of fighting for too long they tend to only see the world through that lens; history shows repeatedly how this never ends well.  Good hard won lessons become doctrine, repeated utility of that doctrine leads heavy investment and lost corporate memory of anything else...and then it all becomes dogma if things go on long enough.

I suggest that you read up on the recent Ukrainian conflict or the very recent Azer-Armenian conflict.  Both demonstrate that the speed and lethality of the modern battlefield has accelerated once again and I am not sure where that leaves our current tools but I am sure that it looks nothing like the wars we have been fighting since the end of the Cold War. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, The_Capt said:

Well I would argue it means something as far as CMCW is concerned and we won't be seeing it in that title or that era because it simply was not, nor is not realistic in that timeframe.  Was not "talking down" to be honest...was trying to educate but like most in the younger generation I am sure you guys have it all figured out and history offers you little (ok, that last part was talking down a bit).

I had a boss a long time ago that said, "there is nothing more dangerous than a one war military"...he noted France after WWI as the prime example.  The problem was (and is) that once a military becomes enamored with one type of fighting for too long they tend to only see the world through that lens; history shows repeatedly how this never ends well.  Good hard won lessons become doctrine, repeated utility of that doctrine leads heavy investment and lost corporate memory of anything else...and then it all becomes dogma if things go on long enough.

I suggest that you read up on the recent Ukrainian conflict or the very recent Azer-Armenian conflict.  Both demonstrate that the speed and lethality of the modern battlefield has accelerated once again and I am not sure where that leaves our current tools but I am sure that it looks nothing like the wars we have been fighting since the end of the Cold War. 

I think this is a major overreaction to a very basic fires principle. By your logic CW shouldn't have fires that can be told to wait 25 minutes because within those 25 minutes they could be needed elsewhere. This isn't some hard coded doctrinal thing that we all follow to a "T", its a modifier to allow precise timing for fire missions. Its just a tool that we can bring out if a situation dictates.

Edited by AttorneyAtWar
Link to comment
Share on other sites

38 minutes ago, AttorneyAtWar said:

I think this is a major overreaction to a very basic fires principle. By your logic CW shouldn't have fires that can be told to wait 25 minutes because within those 25 minutes they could be needed elsewhere. This isn't some hard coded doctrinal thing that we all follow to a "T", its a modifier to allow precise timing for fire missions. Its just a tool that we can bring out if a situation dictates.

Well, yes, I suppose I am saying that, or they might be dead in 25 mins.  Any guns above battalion mortars would be swinging wildly across the battlefield with more calls for fire than they could ever support.  While at the same time hopping like a strung out frog to avoid air strikes and counter-battery.  The situation where they could sit and wait for one tactical unit to say “now” and be able to actually deliver would be extremely rare.  I actually think CM is too forgiving in permanently assigning fire support to a tactical formation (at least in the historical titles).  In reality they could be pulled away or lost mid-battle.

The situation you are describing is very common in our current fights.  We own the space, the guns can be assigned for much longer and tighter because our opponents are largely uncons.  This sort of fire support was also available in Vietnam and a lesser extent Korea, so there are historical theatres where it would work...but few and far between in most CM titles.  Again, SOF missions would also apply but really still outliers.  
 

So yes, fully recognize it is a tool in the box.  Just proposing that in a high intensity peer fight it would seldom be able to be used.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

TRP's they could be used to simulate communications other than radio. When a HQ comes in visual distance, he can use it to call in artillery. Otherwise on map artillery as usual. Using target reference maps Regimental HQ or their FO's. We can be more liberal with TRP's, but we must have a visual on them by HQ's only as they have usually signal-pistols in case of WW2.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Capt, I'm going to have to disagree with you to some extent here. While you're certainly correct that in many such fights your artillery is going to be dragged in many directions, I don't think that's enough rationale to make this feature unrealistic. If an artillery unit was given to your direct support, or you are the brigade or even possibly division main effort, there is no reason in the world why you couldn't have artillery missions waiting for a specific go word, especially on the attack. But even on the defense, having an Final Protective Fires mission ready and waiting to go without having to have it all spotted or making a wild guess with how long it'd take for the TRP to call in would be a serious jump in capability. As it stands, FPF can't even really be modeled in CM in a useful way, and one can't go on to pre-registered attacks on enemy depth following an initial mission without extensive TRPs covering practically the entire map. 

tl;dr, The fact that they often might not be realistic doesn't completely obviate the times that they are completely realistic. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, EvilTwinn said:

Capt, I'm going to have to disagree with you to some extent here. While you're certainly correct that in many such fights your artillery is going to be dragged in many directions, I don't think that's enough rationale to make this feature unrealistic. If an artillery unit was given to your direct support, or you are the brigade or even possibly division main effort, there is no reason in the world why you couldn't have artillery missions waiting for a specific go word, especially on the attack. But even on the defense, having an Final Protective Fires mission ready and waiting to go without having to have it all spotted or making a wild guess with how long it'd take for the TRP to call in would be a serious jump in capability. As it stands, FPF can't even really be modeled in CM in a useful way, and one can't go on to pre-registered attacks on enemy depth following an initial mission without extensive TRPs covering practically the entire map. 

tl;dr, The fact that they often might not be realistic doesn't completely obviate the times that they are completely realistic. 

I agree with this 100%.  I really hate the TRPs and wish that we could pre plot sections of the map for possible fire missions, although I would probably suggest that the size of the target area be a little more standardized rather than the free form way it works now.  Hopefully artillery can get a rework in the future although I doubt that it will be something that is done for CM2.  We will probably need to wait for a future version of the game before something like that comes to pass if it's something possible to add.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The description of the Soviet Artillery battalion's operations in Ralph Peters' "Red Army" was very illuminating for me, as someone intimately involved in call for fire (Cavalry Scout), but not really at all familiar with what happens on the other end of the radio. Obviously, the Soviet artillery experience would have been different than ours, but, I can still see our US and NATO FDC's being bombarded with call for fire after call fire, most screaming for help as OP's, screen lines, and main defensive positions are getting over run. 

I think Artillery will be getting a renovation when CM3 is being developed and am not sure how much change can be expected for arty operations in the CM2 games.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, EvilTwinn said:

Capt, I'm going to have to disagree with you to some extent here. While you're certainly correct that in many such fights your artillery is going to be dragged in many directions, I don't think that's enough rationale to make this feature unrealistic. If an artillery unit was given to your direct support, or you are the brigade or even possibly division main effort, there is no reason in the world why you couldn't have artillery missions waiting for a specific go word, especially on the attack. But even on the defense, having an Final Protective Fires mission ready and waiting to go without having to have it all spotted or making a wild guess with how long it'd take for the TRP to call in would be a serious jump in capability. As it stands, FPF can't even really be modeled in CM in a useful way, and one can't go on to pre-registered attacks on enemy depth following an initial mission without extensive TRPs covering practically the entire map. 

tl;dr, The fact that they often might not be realistic doesn't completely obviate the times that they are completely realistic. 

Hey don't get me wrong, there is room for improvement within the game for fire support.  A FPF mission or FPF TRP makes very good sense and they definitely did exist in the context of the CM games. (Although, frankly the gunners can get in line behind the engineers in regard to in-game improvements)

And there are exceptional circumstances where a fire mission system like this could happen, problem is how much do we invest in these more niche scenarios?  A tactical formation may the main effort once in its entire history, and then it would be looking at a deliberate assault scenario.  In that scenario the "go" would likely come from the guns themselves, not the other way around.  Keep in mind that in the west maneuver warfare as concept did not even exist before CMSF in the CM timeframes (CMCW can almost see it but it was still a few years off).  

This runs into a developers dilemma trying to cover as many possible scenarios as possible in the time one has to develop the game.  I have had this argument with the BFC guys for years wrt military engineering; however, now having been on the other end, I totally get their point.  As cool as explosive line breaching would be in the game, its actual use is exceptionally limited (without getting silly).  We had the same argument for FASCAM in CMCW: do we want to spend months on a feature we might see once or twice?

I would argue that outside of CMSF (but even here the game is a lot more near-pear than say operations in Afghanistan over the last 20 years) almost all CM titles are going to see the vast majority of fire support in scenarios as I have described previously.   For CMCW we did a lot of research on combat support in the timeframe and although I do not argue that US/Western artillery could operate as the OP describes, I seriously doubt they would be offered a situation where they would be able to use it.

An AMC order did not exist at all in Soviet doctrine (in any war), the US/West would only use it rarely in peer high intensity fights (and then mostly only in a contemporary timeframe) which remains the core of CM titles.  In the future, if the Azer-Armenian conflict is an indication, fire support might be entirely controlled at the operational level or conversely made virtually organic for a set period of time.  I think the jury is still out on that one, which is a major problem with building in-the-future games, namely accuracy.

Anyway, CM3 might make all of this so easy that we can get every possible variation imaginable but for now, most Combat Support will likely remain an 80% solution.  But c'mon, we got freakin cluster munitions!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

I think some improvements that would be relevant to pretty much all games would be:

  • Allow the firing of smoke rounds after HE rounds are spent
  • Allow for repeating of firemissions already called without spotting rounds or LOS (especially when using the same battery)
  • Allow for more flexibility in firemission types : HE/SMK mix missions, creeping barrage, etc.
  • More granularity in parameters for fire support: Instead of Heavy, Medium, Short, Long etc, let us specify number of rounds to fire and rate of fire (4 rpm, 2 rpm, etc). Or have the existing parameters give approximate rounds to fire and their ROF. Heavy, medium, short are meaningless when every indirect asset has different base rates of fire.
  • Increased fidelity of damage modelling for nearby vehicles (Artillery should be more dangerous to lighter armored vehicles like IFVs and APCs, and should be more damaging to external tank subsystems)

 

Edited by Gkenny
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, Gkenny said:

I think some improvements that would be relevant to pretty much all games would be:

  • Allow the firing of smoke rounds after HE rounds are spent

My understanding is that currently, your off-map support has, for example, 156 rounds allotted . All of which may be HE and no more than 'X' can be smoke.  In other words, your limit is 156 HE fires and no more than 'X' fires can be something else (smoke, WP, precision, etc.).

A ratio of 156 HE/ 56 Smoke means 100 HE when 56 Smoke have already been fired. If you have already fired 36 smoke than your HE count is 120 (and no more than 20 smoke remaining).

I have learned to look at the top line for ammo count (HE) and anything else available listed below that line are 'type' limits *within* that overall HE count.

On-map assets differ in that they actually carry what they show and may also fire directly. 

Edited by Howler
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Howler said:

My understanding is that currently, your off-map support has, for example, 156 rounds allotted . All of which may be HE and no more than 'X' can be smoke.  In other words, your limit is 156 HE fires and no more than 'X' fires can be something else (smoke, WP, precision, etc.).

A ratio of 156 HE/ 56 Smoke means 100 HE when 56 Smoke have already been fired. If you have already fired 36 smoke than your HE count is 120 (and no more than 20 smoke remaining).

I have learned to look at the top line for ammo count (HE) and anything else available listed below that line are 'type' limits *within* that overall HE count.

On-map assets differ in that they actually carry what they show and may also fire directly. 

Pretty sure it doesn't work that way and it is the way it is because of an engine limitation. You can fire nearly all the HE ammo, then fire all the smoke rounds in a smoke mission, and then finish off the HE ammo so your theory is incorrect. Or even fire all the smoke rounds initially then fire through all the HE ammo, you just can't do the reverse. The rounds listed are the total amount of each round available.

Apparently that is fake news for off map assets.

Edited by Gkenny
Fake news
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...