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Forward Observers - offensive use


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CMBO question - How do you get FO's into position to direct accurate fire without getting them shot up, especially in limited visibility battles? Obviously it's much easier if you can start them hidden in covered terrain with a dominating view of the battlefield. But this often isn't possible during attacks or meeting engagements.

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scout the map, move your forward observers to the best possible position you can find, even if its a terrible position, , or try to guess where the enemy is and use pre planned bombardment, for big guns with long delays, i go pre planned, ,, sorry i cant be more helpfull, just experiment till you get the hang of it, its mostly improvisation

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Originally posted by Cold Steel:

CMBO question - How do you get FO's into position to direct accurate fire without getting them shot up, especially in limited visibility battles? Obviously it's much easier if you can start them hidden in covered terrain with a dominating view of the battlefield. But this often isn't possible during attacks or meeting engagements.

-Move them in cover or out of sight.

-Scout their approaches

-Check the LOS of potential locations with recce units

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Joachim has already given the basic answer. I'll explain a little further how I usually do this. Also, I note the question is specifically about CMBO, which makes a few extra things possible and rules out some others.

When a set up location or defender TRPs can cover the likely arty shoot locations, they can remain stationary in cover and thus not risk being seen. But as the poster says, often you can't do this, on the attack or in meeting engagements e.g. For terrain reasons and the size of the map, etc.

I include FOs that must maneuver to shoot in heavy weapons groups, small platoon sized formations in number of unit terms, made up of a variety of long range weapons, and led by an HQ (company, weapons, or a line infantry HQ that turns over most or all of its squads to a company HQ).

A typical heavy weapons group might have the HQ, 2 HMGs, a mortar, and an FO. Sometimes a sniper too, or a single squad of regular infantry (with a company HQ e.g.). With the Russians I also include 1-2 ATRs, but this is mainly about CMBO. Sometimes I will also have 1-2 vehicle(s) working with the group - a jeep, halftrack, or HE chucker AFV, for example.

The idea is to have a tool kit of ranged weapons, able to deal with any type of enemy. Only a little of each type, enough to deal with a single target one at a time. But the right mix to get the combined arms match up that works best against each type of enemy (mortar vs. gun, FO vs. infantry in trees, direct HE vs. infantry in buildings, MGs vs. infantry in the open, etc).

The group includes only weapons that are effective at long range. No bazookas or flamethrowers or engineers with demo charges e.g. - those need another group of their own, or to work with the ordinary squad infantry up front. Range is meant to protect them from enemy small arms. They expect to actually engage at distances between 250 and 500 meters.

The group trails a platoon of ordinary infantry, typically 2 minutes behind. The leading infantry scouts each body of cover, while the heavy weapons group remains in the next cover back, set up to fire on any enemy that show themselves in the cover the infantry is entering. As soon as the leading infantry has searched the cover, the heavy weapons group moves out again, to the newly cleared area.

The leading infantry typically pauses a minute or so to wait for the weapons to close up somewhat, then heads to the next body of cover. By the time they are entering the next cover ahead, I want the weapons coming into position behind them. There can be a minute or so of mistiming occasionally - that is livable.

I choose the bodies of cover to walk the column through based on decent locations for the heavy weapons. I have some eventual overwatch position for them in mind - a local rise, a church, or a treeline with good fields of view beyond e.g. The leading infantry can check LOS from all the areas reached, to see if they match my expectations or if I need to adjust things to get LOS to the points I wanted to see.

Once the ordinary infantry reach the last planned position, they clear out of it as the weapons set up there. They might attack from that spot, but often retrace their steps a bit first, and advance again along a different line. The reason is the weapons want a spot with wide LOS, and often that is a poor place to jump off from, because lots of things can typically see it.

A step back and then to the side is all it typically takes to get the regular infantry lead platoon back into the fight on a more promising line. It can act as my reserve in the meantime, assuming it doesn't get shot up getting the weapons into position.

Sometimes I can't afford the lead infantry platoon, and the location I am moving the weapons to seems unlikely to have enemy present. (e.g. a rise along one edge reasonably close to my start line). In that case, I use the fast elements of the group as the scouts - a single squad e.g., then the HQ, sometimes a sniper or Russian ATR.

A vehicle can transport riders to the backside of already scouted cover. But typically it is the mortar or HMGs that are slow enough to need the help. In CMBO, FOs can ride. In CMBB and AK, the radio ones can but the line ones can't. Line FOs are slow and don't ride, and are hardest to reposition. In CMBO, the FOs have fast speed. Radios in BB and AK are medium speed, which is fast enough using "move" to keep up with moving fast units. They just don't run or use advance.

As soon as the FO is in position in any cover, I call a mission at some aim point, to get the time counting down. I readjust to bump the time upward again if I don't have enemy right over the barrage location when the time gets to 1 minute and change.

In BO, this technique can typically get me a barrage on anything that is actually spotted within 2 minutes of getting LOS. In BB and AK, you have to be more careful about maintain LOS to the target throughout the countdown, or the barrage will go off target. Also, you can't call the shoot while moving. It can take up to 5 minutes for one FO to get useful fire. My solution is to have 2 groups each with an FO and stagger their delay times, so one or the other can bring down fire in 2-3 minutes. Light mortars can get this speed alone (though they lack punch compared to medium or heavy stuff).

But in CMBO, you generally don't have to worry about such things. Even big stuff is highly responsive and easily readjusted. So much so, you can practically fiddle with the flight of individual volleys e.g. of 155mm, by retargeting each turn even after they start firing. This can stretch a single model of big stuff over 5-8 minutes, and give enemy infantry fits.

You always want some other unit closer to the enemy than the FO, especially when moving. Do not reposition them alone. They might still see, ID, and target the FO - and they don't take well to being shot at. But you minimize the chances of it by scouting routes and cover first, and having someone else moving at the same time, slightly closer to the enemy.

If you need to do a long repositioning of an FO alone and time is important, and you are in CMBO or have a radio FO, consider using a vehicle for the dead ground portion of the move. Preferably one that offers armor protection (a halftrack e.g., or M3A1 scout car. The reduction in time of exposure can be useful, and the protection against e.g. one MG (in armor) particularly helpful in BB and AK. You still want a dead ground route. Unload at the backside of the cover the FO will use, and advance through it only far enough to get LOS to your target.

One other useful idea with FOs getting LOS is the aim point idea. You don't need LOS to the exact enemy unit - a sticky targeting line. You only need LOS to a prominent terrain feature close enough to known enemy positions. Sometimes you can see the second floor of a building, or 15m into a treeline, or a rise right next to a gun, without being able to see the ground floor, or the whole wood, or the gun itself.

Close counts with artillery. 20m side to side, and 50m on the long axis (east west), will put rounds near the target. If you can cut those in half you have the best chance of getting several close hits. Particularly with something like a dangerous high caliber enemy gun, it can be safer *not* to have direct LOS, and instead just to see a point *near* the gun.

I hope this helps.

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