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Are my company level tactics correct?


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I've been wondering, since it has been working a little lately for me, whether or not my tactical approach to wielding company level infantry forces is correct.

My approach:

* In the setup, create a "hollow" platoon, devoid of any extra guns or goodies & place it in advance of the rest of the company by at least a minute & a half using move to contact

* I use staggered lines with my platoons

* If the said first platoon encounters a "dug in" enemy, I wait them out until a mortar armed platoon can smoke the postion, and then I get into range to assualt it

* Whenever in an Urban combat or combat in a populated location situation, I tend to "house" the platoon hq's and company hq's

* If I have a recon vehicle, I will send it out way ahead of the company and not use it offensively (i.e. it sneaks to the tip of hills to search hull down, if it gets engaged I make it scurry away)

* I smoke out towed guns with my mortars

* I take the extras from the stripped platoon and insert them into an "HQ" platoon, handing them out to other platoons as needed

* I use move to contact often for any movements, especially at night

* I don't match forces onto a target by a pure match up of speciality (tank on tank) but rather by what could kill what ideally and quickly (at rifle vs. armored car or well hidden AT gun vs. enemy armored column or even heavy MG42 in bush vs. infantry smile.gif )

* If I use combine arms, I operate off of the "pyramid of power" theory that I developed while getting whomped as a newbie at this game (which is recon buggy<--Infantry<--Tank<--Spotters/guns)

Is there anything wrong with my tactics?

Regards,

UberPickle

[ August 19, 2007, 07:42 AM: Message edited by: Uberpickle ]

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Mostly sensible. A few other things I do.

I make a "main body" based on the company HQ and typically one other platoon HQ, which keeps all its squads. The company HQ draws squads from the remaining platoons. These can keep weapons as well, depending on the terrain I expect to advance through.

The two "lightened" platoons created by the above are given missions of point-scout for one, and heavy weapons-overwatch for the other. The former gets just its squads and occasionally a bazooka, schreck, or ATR. It goes first on move to contact until enemy fire, then short advances.

The overwatch guys may have as little as 1 squad of ordinary infantry (leaving more for to the company HQ), and have weapons rates "slow" (including line FOs). The squad just scouts positions for the weapons, and these do not try to take ground where any enemy might be. Sometimes I will leave 2 squads with them and they then act as my reserve, and come forward minus the weapons late in the fight, when the weapons are low on ammo etc.

Having the company HQ in a main body instead of back commanding weapons groups, makes that main body much more flexible and deals with changes of plan better, I find. The company HQ can feed squads back to their organic HQs or draw squads from anywhere, to replace units broken etc. Basically squads have a lot more places they can be that are "in command", and the switches from organic HQ to company HQ and back, are more useful and frequent.

I generally aim the whole company column that results at some body of cover that I expect to be 200 yards or so from the enemy MLR, or at least where I expect it to start. I want to get the main body into cover at that range from the enemy. Then I simply outshoot him until his forward edges "melt". I don't worry about smoking him and close assaulting, until his men are heads down and some running away etc.

Outshooting him relies on the heavy stuff from the overwatch, and on sheer numbers from the main body. I want to hit less than his full force with nearly all of mine. Depth helps - I avoid spreading a thin line across too much of the map. That just ensures I'll have to fight all the defenders.

As for the escalation chain, I think the top of it is a platoon of tanks staying in a tight fist, not FOs. FOs I consider a specific counter to enemy infantry platoons in good cover. Mortars are a specific counter to enemy towed guns. Individual tanks are a specific counter to enemy HMGs or squads in "up" positions.

As for light armor, I find it is actually quite poor at doing recon and don't use it for that. Too often it results in "recon by death" - and since the stuff that can kill thin enough armor is often "stealthy", sometimes you don't even see the guy that KOs them. Or armor does and then moves.

Light armor is at its best using its MG to hose down a single enemy infantry position. It gets a chance to do this by staying well back, using "keyholes" through cover (spots with LOS to only a narrow searchlight beam or pencil into the enemy position, not visible from most of the field). Also by waiting until the second half of the fight. The enemy tends to have far fewer things left alive that can kill armor of any kind, in the "second half".

Three other items not mentioned in your approach, that I find critical in practice. One, the "advance" command, and "packet movement" using it, as a way of pushing infantry forward once already taking fire. Move to contact is good inside cover or early, since it makes you stop when the enemy is seen. But advance is needed to get close enough after fire is taken. Packet movement means moving a few guys at a time while the rest stay in cover, rallying (at long range) and shooting back (in close).

Two, it is often hard to get full spots on defenders, to give your men something to chew on. HMGs, light flak, mortars that have HQs spotting for them, FOs - none leave more than a sound contact at medium range or longer. If that. I find the approach march down to the point where I have full IDs of enemy to shoot back at, a critical part of attacks. Two things work - pushing the point hard using advance, and covered routes. Occasionally you can get a spot by driving a tank far enough forward, but usually the risk from unseen guns is too great.

And three, I find that pacing an attack and conserving my ammo until I get close, is critical. It is about balancing when to move in closer, and when to shoot back, and when instead fo just collect in cover and "breath" (rally, rest, sometimes even on hide or deliberately out of LOS).

Attacks that run straight in tend to fail in my experience, because some men "fall out" and others push too close, where enemy firepower is highest. And nobody fires back enough if everyone is trying to move.

But attacks that stop and fire as soon as possible also fail in my experience. The reason is the enemy is in good cover, ranges still long, and ammo limited. You tickle the enemy with MG and small arms fire, but he readily rallies through it. Your ammo doesn't. You are left "stalled out", with ammo getting low, before the enemy runs out of good order defenders.

I find two ideas help getting that balance right. One, I "listen to the men". Meaning, I regularly survey the morale states of all the squads. If they starting to break I am pushing too hard, and the solution is to slow down and give them time to rally, and overwatch (and FOs etc) more time to reduce the enemy fire. If most are in good order and only a few are cautious, I should be pushing closer, not stopping and firing.

Two, I try to err on the side of holding my fire until I am close. I consider it something like chicken, and firing is flinching. If the enemy spends half his ammo tickling me in cover at long range, I'll wait it out and rally, and then come on in. With twice the ammo per unit to throw at the ranges that count. A few high ammo unit types carry the fight in the meantime - tanks, HMGs, towed guns with large HE loads. It is a marathon not a sprint, and the relevant question is not who shoots more or sooner, but who shoots last.

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  • 1 month later...

Try attacking with your company in a column of platoons.

One platoon leads, followed by a second, followed by a third, followed by your overwatch (MGs, mortars, etc.)

Depending on the terrain, the overwatch can move up to as close to the second platoon in the column.

When you make contact, the lead platoon (and perhaps the overwatch) returns fire while everyone else moves on line and engages as well.

This allows you to maximise use of approach cover. When your first platoon gets attrited (it usually does), you can bring up another platoon to take the lead. Hence, your spearhead is always sharp.

Just watch out for artillery. You can't put two platoons into an "artillery box" or about 70 meters wide and 120 meters deep.

The biggest problem with most attackers is that they attack online. Without depth, you can't sustain casualties and push through an MLR in most cases.

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Originally posted by Nemesis Lead:

The biggest problem with most attackers is that they attack online. Without depth, you can't sustain casualties and push through an MLR in most cases.

Advancing across a broad front certainly does lack depth, but allows the opportunity to flank any strongpoint encountered while protecting your own flanks. The best approach is a combination of broad and depth.
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Originally posted by Kingfish:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Nemesis Lead:

The biggest problem with most attackers is that they attack online. Without depth, you can't sustain casualties and push through an MLR in most cases.

Advancing across a broad front certainly does lack depth, but allows the opportunity to flank any strongpoint encountered while protecting your own flanks. The best approach is a combination of broad and depth. </font>
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Originally posted by Nemesis Lead:

The point is that your column breaks out and flanks right or left on contact.

But that contact may come, not from a fixed defensive position to your front, but via enfilading fire from enemy forces that have flanked your column. That said, you are right that terrain has the final say.
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With CMx1 I liked to split the unit into three; a heavy holding group, a more mobile flanking group and a reserve. The plan being that the heavy group pinned the defender frontally, taking the heat off the second group as it exploited good ground and flanked the defender. The third would ideally exploit through the breach gained, or it would pass through the first group, depending on how the situation developed.

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Originally posted by Kingfish:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Nemesis Lead:

The point is that your column breaks out and flanks right or left on contact.

But that contact may come, not from a fixed defensive position to your front, but via enfilading fire from enemy forces that have flanked your column. That said, you are right that terrain has the final say. </font>
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Originally posted by Nemesis Lead:

Would love it if my column got flanked. Then they are in real trouble because I will just turn toward them and hit them online.

This is assuming of course that the enemy is only going to hit you from one flank. Besides, turning 90 degrees to face an enemy on the flank exposes your own flank to the FLOT.

With the alternative, attacking on line, getting flanked is a real worry as you can be rolled up.
Not on line, but in depth. 2 up, 1 back is a classic example. If your lefthand force gets flanked, you still have your reserves to

a) reinforce your LH force -or-

B) flank the flankers -or-

c) provide a fallback position.

Attacking in column does not negate the danger of getting your flanks rolled up. In fact, it increases it since your depth is only as wide as your column.

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Superpickle --

I would add that you should also assign the best commander to the task. Your platoon and company commanders have various strenths and weaknesses with their bonuses (moral, command, stealth, combat). Chose carefully which commander you send on which mission.

If you send a platoon through the woods to flank a position, you may want to send your commander with the best stealth bonus. If one of you platoons is going to hold the center of your position against the brunt of the enemy attack, you may want your commander with the best moral and combat bonuses. If all your platoon commandes are weak, your company commander is going to play a critical role; keep him near the action and maybe pull your platoon commanders out.

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Little addition to Bannon DC's post. I've noticed there's a huge different between unit experience too especially what comes to greens they're totally useless as infantry's main purpose is to scout and capture. They don't seem to do well in either of them and if they panic it can take a whole lot of time to get it back in line. Watch carefully greens. Regulars and veterans are a whole different story they can do a good job especially veterans.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Good thread.

I am currently playing the CMAK scenario "Fr├╝hlingswind" (don't know the name in english, it is the german demo mission).

I have brought most of my infantry in a decent firing position via a covered route. The assembly area is covered by a small elevation in the terrain which conceals the area against the fires from the enemy.

My problem is the enemy armour though.

I have 2 Panzer III platoons and 1 Marder platoon against Shermans and M3 Stuarts (about 2 platoons each).

I don't know how to disable the enemy tanks, they always hit my tanks with the first shot whereas my tanks always need 2 or 3 shots to "zero in" on their targets. So far I have lost 2 Marder and 2 or 3 Panzer IIIs in shoot and scoot drills. There is absolutely no space for any flanking maneuvers.

Any suggestions (regarding this special situation and tank vs. tank tactics in general)?

Screenshot of the situation (quality is pretty low; the panzer III are on the left, infantry in the middle and marder tanks on the right of the screenshot)

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The US armor are Grants and Shermans, not Stuarts and Shermans. They also have a few gun halftracks which are much more vulnerable.

The 50mm guns on the Panzer IIIs are only effective against the US tanks at close range or from flank shots. The Marders are effective at any range, but if they advance alone they are likely to get drilled themselves first.

Your best opportunity to kill the US armor is to get as many of the Grants as possible before the Shermans arrive. Once the Shermans have appeared the US is favored in the armor fight. But against the AI, superior human tactics should still allow you to win.

One thing to understand about the Grants is that they tend to fire their turret mounted 37mm more than the hull mounted 75mm. Particularly if they are hull down - then the 75 just can't fire - or you approach from anything but straight ahead (the 37 is turreted, the 75 needs to turn the whole tank pretty much). The 37mm is not dangerous to the front armor of the Panzer IIIs, except at quite close range.

Another thing is to be sure you get the US gun halftracks early, to reduce the US outgoing firepower. Those can be killed even by 20mm, or by tree burst artillery if they are in the woods or orchard area. HMGs can give them trouble inside 400m. Even if you only make them cower, that is enough, but KOing them outright usually isn't too hard. Those also need to point the whole 'track, so better sighting plus advancing IIIs to a crest together can KO them rapidly.

Next you have to get close enough to hurt the Grants. When they are alone (no Shermans yet I mean), you can rely on front armor and being hull down, somewhat. But once the Shermans are present that will not work - their 75s will kill easily at ranges where your replies will all bounce.

A better way to get close is to exploit the desert setting. Think dust storm. Make it with your scout cars and with your artillery, firing smoke or HE. Blind them, then rush full platoons closer, and in at least 2 widely separated locations. Try to keep one platoon of the American tanks masked while you take on the other, even after the movement. If you have IIIs at two different points on the compass and close in, they can't face both ways and shots will go in. Hunt up with the Marders at the same time - they may be ignored for the closer threats and get killing shots off frontally.

Once one platoon is torched, reposition for the next and let the dust and smoke clear.

It isn't easy to arrange so much concealment, and you will lose some tanks to lines snuck through the dust clouds or as they dissipate. You will lose some scout cars on fast move making dust. But in return your Marders will get some killing hits, and your IIIs can get close enough (and "flank enough") to score, too.

Remember that the Grants in particular have to face the whole vehicle to use the best gun, and make them turn. As you run right in among them, if they "spin" to do so then they will show weak side armor to everyone else at longer range.

No question this one is easier to win as the US, because all they have to do is work the Grants right to get the hull 75s to fire, avoid too intense a fight before the Shermans appear, and keep up a long range fight until they accumulate kills. They can mask part of the Germans with their own smoke and artillery dust while taking on the other part.

But a human can beat the AI either side, because it doesn't know how to use differential vision to set up many on few fights, or how to use closing tactics to get flanking shot angles.

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