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Mounted Troops Tactics Questions


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In the four months that I've been playing human opponents instead of the AI, I've learned a lot about tactics when playing the attacker. I've learned how to scout and probe, and how to use heavy weapons and AFVs. One thing I haven't learned, is what to do when I have infantry in halftracks or trucks and I'm advancing on an objective and I know the enemy is there somewhere. This is more common when playing a scenario than when playing a QB.

What are the best tactics? Should I just dismount the troops and advance on foot? How close do I bring them to the objective if I leave them mounted? You know you're going to get pasted by something if you just drive right up to the flag.

Any advice out there?

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Pretty much dismount and approach on foot. If you have trucks, you don't want to expose them at all unless you KNOW the area is safe -- which requires dismounts.

Halftracks can be used to keep a mounted reserve for use late in the game when you have a good idea where the enemy strength lies. They provide enough protection against small arms that it makes some sense to use them to bring reserves to bear quickly.

Other than that, you can use half tracks (especially the Allied ones with their prodigious ammo supply) in a stand-off role as machine gun support for the infantry. They do need to stay back, though, since just about any anti-armor weapon (and some HMGs) can kill them.

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Originally posted by Sanok:

In the four months that I've been playing human opponents instead of the AI, I've learned a lot about tactics when playing the attacker. I've learned how to scout and probe, and how to use heavy weapons and AFVs. One thing I haven't learned, is what to do when I have infantry in halftracks or trucks and I'm advancing on an objective and I know the enemy is there somewhere. This is more common when playing a scenario than when playing a QB.

What are the best tactics? Should I just dismount the troops and advance on foot? How close do I bring them to the objective if I leave them mounted? You know you're going to get pasted by something if you just drive right up to the flag.

Any advice out there?

Theory: Trucks are safe 3km beyond the front line, for (armored) halftracks that distance is only 800m. Both are the shuttle service to start positions - which are usually way beyond CM maps. There is some thread somewhere search for "hotrodders" or sumfink.

If you absolutely have to use halftracks, move fast and try to remain hidden. Try to dash from cover to cover.

It may pay off to drop a plt of grunts immediately on the enemy. But it might as well cost you the full plt. It is a gamble. If you do it, try to disembark in cover (trees) or concealed from long range fire upon panicked troops

For fire support - keyholing.

In a current CMBB PBEM game, I have to advance across 800m of no mans land. Little LOS from my startup zones to the enemy positions. Several guns got pushed forward (at 22m/turn...). After careful scouting of approach lanes without LOS to possible enemy positions I now move trucks forward to speed up things (there are less than 100 turns left now, so I'm a bit in a hurry :D ). If they cross potential LOS of the enemy, they do it on roads and only for a few meters. HTs might risk a bit more, but I would not risk valuable freight.

In the desert, trucks can advance behind the dust trail of several tanks. Make sure they stay in the open or brush. Stones slow them down. If it works for trucks, HTs will do, too. Remember that you need a hiding place at the end of their tour or dust clouds to cover their way back.

Gruß

Joachim

[ March 12, 2004, 06:02 AM: Message edited by: Joachim ]

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Originally posted by Sanok:

[snips]

One thing I haven't learned, is what to do when I have infantry in halftracks or trucks and I'm advancing on an objective and I know the enemy is there somewhere. This is more common when playing a scenario than when playing a QB.

What are the best tactics?

[snips]

Any advice out there?

You seem to be in good company in not knowing what the best approach is. The latest British Army Review (no. 133) contains a piece by Sydney Jary MC titled ""The Form" -- What you can and, more importantly, what you cannot do". This is about how junior commanders learn what is practicable on the battlefield (from Jary's own experience, recounted in "18 Platoon", now in its fifth edition). The following, quoted verbatim from the article, I hope may be of some interest:

"We never worked out "The Form" for the employment of APCs. The Kangaroo became available in NW Europe in the very cold winter of 1944-45 and, although we employed them on many occasions over the next few months, the war ended before we could find "The Form".

The problem was quite simple, but the solution proved very difficult. Where do you debus when attacking an enemy position? There seemed to be two options.

* Option 1 You employed APCs to protect the rifle companies from shell and mortar bomb splinters and small arms fire until you were between 100 to 50 yards from the opposition's defensive position. Approching his position you could use the two Browning .300 MGs to discourage the enemy infantry and it would be quite safe for your tame Gunner Field Regiment to douse the enemy with stonks -- concentrations, not a barrage -- with their 25-pdrs. At approx 50 yards from the enemy position you could then debus as your accompanying FOO lifted his fire. In theory our infantry would then make a wild charge firing their Bren LMGs from the slung position. All very nice in theory but, and it is a big but, if your opposition had just one 75mm PAK 40, or worse, an 88mm anti-tank gun, no Kangaroos would have dared to attempt this method. Now in 2003 you might pull it off fighting a second rate enemy; but with the Germans it was not, repeat not, on. If you want to try this tactic with your Warrior please bear in mind that your Gunner's AS90 will demand that you debus 300 yards from your enemy.

* Option 2 You motor onto the enemy position supprted to the last minute with fire from your gunners 25-pdrs. In theory this should keep the opposition in the bottom of their slit trenches. Then, with rifle and bayonet, Brens and SMGs, you debus and hey presto you mop up! Clearly the scenario of a dangerous optimist.

During the approach -- it could be 1500-2000 yards in open country -- the German A-Tk Guns would have knocked out all your APCs. If, by a miracle or the use of smoke, you were able to drive onto your objective, the hollow charge Panzerfausts and Panzerschreck would have turned your APCs into steel coffins. We had just entered the era of the hand held infantry A-Tk weapons.

We never learned "The Form" with APCs. Has this generation of armoured infantry produced the answers?"

All the best,

John.

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Step 1 - estimate the probable limits of the enemy starting positions. This involves thinking about the scenario and examining the map. It might be 200 yards on. It might be half way across the map. It is unlikely to be a wide open field. Some natural break in the cover can usually be found roughly half way across the map. With a little room for error, you can estimate the likely enemy position as starting there.

Step 2 - figure out where the first good LOS blocks are ahead of the line noticed in step 1. This can be a ridge causing dead ground, or treelines, or enough houses to break up most long lines of sight. The area between the estimated set up line and this block will generally be open or relatively so - otherwise the LOS block moves closer to the enemy set up area, or the set up area comes closer to you, to find a natural break in the cover. Otherwise put, the "up" portion of a defense tries to have open ground ahead, but can rarely see the whole map.

Step 3 - pick locations within the LOS block IDed in 2 that you want to approach. Some you won't be interested in because they go nowhere or see nothing. Sometimes there just won't be a feasible route to this or that spot. Often, you will also winnow the possible areas according to some overall scheme of maneuver e.g. I want to work up the left edge, or only the left half of the field, or I want to take hill so-n-so then pivot around it on the right side.

Step 4 - look for dead ground routes to 3, out of LOS of locations in 1. You can "fast move" while still mounted up to the back side of the LOS block. Then get out, and move through the cover. This should give you eyes looking across the last stretch of no man's land before the likely enemy positions. Heavy weapons can set up and overwatch the next step of the advance.

Step 5 - dismounted infantry now advances from the LOS block cover, to the likely enemy position cover, overwatched by whatever you have available, from positions back in the blocking cover. Thin vehicles remain behind the blocking cover, in dead ground. Full AFVs can be back there or keyholed through the blocking cover to see small portions of the likely enemy position.

Only after leg infantry has entered the estimated forward enemy positions, should the light vehicles advance again. You want all the positions that can see the blocking cover investigated, on foot. If nothing is found, the heavy weapons can load up while the last remaining places are being searched. If instead you have to fight for it, after everything has been broken and your leg infantry have basically cleared the position.

Then and only then, the light vehicles carry the heavy weapons forward again - to the backside of the newly won cover. Dismount again, set up again. The leg infantry is already moving on, and full AFVs have come forward already to overwatch them.

Thus, once the advance to contact has been made, the vehicle are acting as a "ferry service" from behind the old position to behind the new, as each is taken. The typical sequence is load, drive, drive, unload, sit, sit, sit, load, drive, drive, unload... And the purpose is mostly to keep slow heavy teams 200-400m behind the advancing infantry, depending on how open the terrain is.

Very late, after the enemy AT network has been smashed by the attack and especially by the full attacking AFVs, it may become possible to bring out the thin vehicles to shoot. MG halftracks and the like. They still "keyhole" to avoid any remaining AT assets. They want their MGs to cover open ground areas that split the enemy defense into separate zones, to prevent them from supporting each other. A moving MG with ammo remaining and invulnerable to small arms fire, starts looking pretty darn good around turn 25.

I hope this helps.

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From a CM game engine standpoint, here are some considerations for your mounted charge:

1) watch victory points. Halftracks are expensive and each crewmember brings 6 points (12 captured) on top of that. If you have to do recon by explosion it is usually recommendable to use other junk for it, no matter how useless the APCs may appear.

2) if you assault mounted, it makes all the difference int he world whether the area where you would jump out of the halftracks has terrain patches that are vehicle accessible and offer halfway good protection. The reason is that if your men jump out of the halftrack in open ground or roads, they are very vulnerable.

The terrain which does this is scattered trees, trenches and foxholes and rocky isn't too bad. Drive the halftrack minimally into this terrain and then dismount and then back the halftrack up out of the cover terrain so that it stays swift. Do not turn in difficult terrain.

3) CMAK and CMBB are different here because the turn rate is CMBB is just awful. A traffic jam in CMBB is certain death if anything can fire into the location. Bog rates also seem improved in CMAK.

4) ask yourself what else to do with the vehicles and what the best part in the battle is to bring them in.

There is a different battle time tradeoff of the German halftracks (and British carriers) and the U.S. derived ones.

The German halftracks only have a 7.92 MG with moderate ammo. They run pretty good in mixed ground. They withstand smallarms and ATR fire reasonably well, they even take an occasional 37mm class hit.

The U.S. halftracks withstand basically no fire, but the ones with .30 and .50cal are very useful against infantry in the open. They are less mobile than the German ones.

It is obvious that there is a different tradeoff. A charge into enemy lines with the German halftracks has a higher chance of success (better mobility, harder to kill without revealing tanks or full-size guns). if you lose them it's still bad for victory points but you don't lose too valuable fire support.

The U.S. halftracks on the other hand have much less change for a successful assault. On the other hand, the ones with the ammo modeling error for the .50cal (250 bursts of .50cal ammo) are very valuable fire support and can be put to good use all over the place. I particular they can help raise your victory point level by mopping up fleeing enemy troops and they can offer useful area fire due to their high ammo load which allows you to permanently shoot at a give location.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Originally posted by John D Salt:

You seem to be in good company in not knowing what the best approach is. The latest British Army Review (no. 133) contains a piece by Sydney Jary MC titled ""The Form" -- What you can and, more importantly, what you cannot do". This is about how junior commanders learn what is practicable on the battlefield (from Jary's own experience, recounted in "18 Platoon", now in its fifth edition). The following, quoted verbatim from the article, I hope may be of some interest:

<SNIP>

[/QB]

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John

Excellent read. Good to see that Sydney Jary MC is still going strong.

Regarding the use of APCs in real life , compared to CM, I think it is worth remembering, as Claus alluded to, that IRL there may well be far less fire assets around in the defense than there are in CM. German divisions in the east covering 20km sectors with a grand total of 12 ATGs come to mind. So not only would the attacker have far more APCs or tanks then in CM, the defender would often be a lot weaker (not everyday was Kursk).

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Originally posted by Andreas:

Regarding the use of APCs in real life , compared to CM, I think it is worth remembering, as Claus alluded to, that IRL there may well be far less fire assets around in the defense than there are in CM. German divisions in the east covering 20km sectors with a grand total of 12 ATGs come to mind. So not only would the attacker have far more APCs or tanks then in CM, the defender would often be a lot weaker (not everyday was Kursk).

After this rather lengthy discussion of mounted troops on halftracks, could we focus on the use of truck-mounted troops on huge damp maps?

It would be nice if we could derive a feasible method involving neither tanks nor Finnish trucks(they arrive in turn 119 with 2% probability, I can't build my plan around them).

Is it safe to use my trucks to drop my glorious troops directly onto Andreas's troops cowering in their trenches? Or is it necessary to keep them behind the last patch of cover before enemy positions?

Gruß

Joachim

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  • 4 weeks later...

Can someone please enlighten me on the best method of dismounting infantry from a half track? I had my HT with infantry in an important but hot location. So I put a "pause" command of 30 seconds on the HT and told the infantry to get out at the objective, then I figured my HT would fast move away before it was destroyed.

However, my infantry didn't disembark - instead they stayed in the HT and moved away with the HT, spoiling my positioning.

Does the HT have to stay still the whole turn if infantry was disembarking? 30 seconds was a lot less than the turn delay for the infantry (they were veterans).

Thanks for the help.

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Originally posted by Carl Puppchen:

Can someone please enlighten me on the best method of dismounting infantry from a half track? I had my HT with infantry in an important but hot location. So I put a "pause" command of 30 seconds on the HT and told the infantry to get out at the objective, then I figured my HT would fast move away before it was destroyed.

However, my infantry didn't disembark - instead they stayed in the HT and moved away with the HT, spoiling my positioning.

Does the HT have to stay still the whole turn if infantry was disembarking? 30 seconds was a lot less than the turn delay for the infantry (they were veterans).

Yeah. This is just another one of the 1000s of things that are not written down, you just have to "know".

When you give the HTs movement orders, the infantry will not dismount until the HT reaches the endpoint, paused or not.

"Rotate" is an exception to this rule.

Most of the suggestions above will help you.

In the very rare case that I assualt off of mounted HTs, I give the HTs movement orders to the very closest meters of the terrain cluster they are assualting, we'll say a "woods" patch. I give the infantry "fast" move orders for the 1-2 meters they have to go to get into the woods, followed by "move to contact" once they are in. "Fast" move works better than "advance" if you get the HTs just 1-2 meters from the "woods" patch you are attacking. Mainly because the reaction time on ambushing squads isn't typically fast enough to catch you "fast" moving for only 1-2 meters. And after that you'll be in cover on relatively even terms (all else equal) with the enemy squad(s).

Make sure you give the infantry their movement orders before the HTs get to their endpoints, so they rush off the very second the HTs stop.

[ April 24, 2004, 07:23 PM: Message edited by: Walpurgis Night ]

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I have some advice on how to react to an APC assault. The first thing you must do is obsrve the ADVANCE (don't shoot unless fired upon if u r then ignore the rest of this advice). Let them approach no closer then 100m when they are very close gun the APC before the squads dismount you can get all of the enemy with a few lucky shots but if this fails use all u have on the Inf (they go down quick under heavy fire)

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Originally posted by Carl Puppchen:

Does the HT have to stay still the whole turn if infantry was disembarking? 30 seconds was a lot less than the turn delay for the infantry (they were veterans).

I think they disembark if the APC is not moving or having pending movement orders OR if the 'disembark' waypoint is very close and the APC is not moving fast. That is, they can even jump off a moving vehicle as long as the vehicle is only 'moving', not moving 'fast'.

So in your case, the waypoint might have been so far from the APC that the squad thought it should wait until the vehicle got there or stopped its orders...

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