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Counter battery artillery fire.


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I still enjoy the occasional game of Steel Panthers and always liked the automatic counter battery artillery fire feature, although I always felt that it was way too effective. That said it made me wonder if this is still done in a modern setting or just left up to the flying artillery? It's probably more relevant for the Normandy game and if it was done regularly enough is it an option we should be requesting for CM Normandy or even CMSF?

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I've assumed (imagined) in the game that whenever you or the enemy get very limited artillery, the flying shells stopping would most likely be due to counter-battery fire. Artillery ammo load is entirely up to the scenario designer, so I admit its my own 'rationalization' why all I got was twelve artillery rounds.

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The only reason I see to add more complex modeling of CB fire in CMSF is if they ever get around to adding on-map light and medium mortars. I'm talking 60mm-82mm tubes here, not the little mini-mortars the Brits have. AIUI, the U.S. CB radar is good enough to detect and pinpoint the location of a solo tube within seconds of projectile launch, and this is information that can be acted on (in the form of precision CB fire), and/or passed on to the commander in the field fairly quickly, and certainly within the time limit of a typical CM engagement.

As to how often this kind of defensive capability would apply in CMSF, I'm not sure. As LT Mike notes, static U.S. bases would definitely be under this kind of CB radar umbrella. But CM:SF isn't really built to represent a static base protection scenario. I'm not sure how often tip-of-the spear maneuver forces in a hot war would have access to this kind of stuff.

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I agree that it's outside the scope of CMSF but what about Normandy? I was thinking of having a specific option to assign one of your artillery assets to a counter battery role. I don't know if that would have been a decision made way above the platoon or company level and therefore outside the scope of that module too?

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Yes, in WWII, CB decisions would generally be made way above the Platoon, Company, or even Battalion level.

CB in WWII was usually a much slower, deliberate affair. For example, prior to a planned assault, the attacking force would usually do its best to try to locate enemy battery positions by various means -- aerial recon, sound-flash ranging, etc. Then the attacker would often assign some artillery assets to suppression of known or suspected enemy battery positions. In CM terms, the defender would simply have less artillery available, because some batteries would be suppressed by CB fire and unable to respond. I do think the best way to represent this is in scenario design, rather than giving the player control over what artillery assets to assign to CB. No Company or Battalion commander would have this kind of control.

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The redlegs can correct me on this, but I believe that in WW II the CB assets were all grouped at the corps or army level and CB fire would be preplanned. On rare occasions, divisional arty might respond to a newly revealed enemy battery if it were within range, but usually they had other missions to perform, and it would take more time to set up than would be available in a CM game.

Michael

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The redlegs can correct me on this, but I believe that in WW II the CB assets were all grouped at the corps or army level and CB fire would be preplanned. On rare occasions, divisional arty might respond to a newly revealed enemy battery if it were within range, but usually they had other missions to perform, and it would take more time to set up than would be available in a CM game.

Michael

I'm not FA, but I can tell you that counter battery can easily be done through crater analysis.

In fact, I had to do crater analysis on a 60mm mortar during my time as a platoon leader in Iraq.

Its pretty easy. All you need is a metal rod and a compass and you can generally tell where the round came from.

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I think it is unnecessary for CM to model this explicitly, given the other things that that time could be spent simulating. The scenario designer can tweak things to simulate it. For example, in one of my scenarios, the Syrians get two modules of mortars with very small ammo loads, and one appears as a reinforcement. The idea being that the mortars fire a few rounds then relocating to avoid CB fire.

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The redlegs can correct me on this, but I believe that in WW II the CB assets were all grouped at the corps or army level and CB fire would be preplanned. On rare occasions, divisional arty might respond to a newly revealed enemy battery if it were within range, but usually they had other missions to perform, and it would take more time to set up than would be available in a CM game.

Under British doctrine, yes: CB was handled at Corps level. this was for sevral reasons:

1) The British had made a decision earlier (like, in WWI) to remove medium and heavy artillery from divisions and group it at corps and army level. This was because the ranges of these gusn is typically much larger than the typical frontage of a division, and it's easier to move the fire effects (ie, switch targets from one part of the Corps front to another) than it is to move the guns themselves from one divisional AO to another.

2) following on from that, the medium and heavy guns ae the ones needed to actually conduct CB, due to their range and weight of fire.

3) surveillance assets - flash spotting, sound ranging, aerial recon, etc - are practically never divisional assets (I know of only one exception in WWII), for much the same reason as the mdm and hy guns - that is, they can cover a much longer front than a typical division has, and tit therefore makes no sense to artifically resitrict them to operating within divisional AOs.

4) Corps is the first level that has a dedicated and substantial air staff. It also has a dedicated, substantial and permanent staff covering all staff duties, making information sharing and coordination much more effective.

5) Corps typically look and plan ahead several-days-to-a-week, while divisions only look ahead 1-2 days.

6) the enemy tends not to conform to friendly deployment patterns, but a corps frontage provides enough overlap to encompass a goodly number of enemy assets.

Divisional artillery would quite regularly respond to CB information, on the orders of the Counter Battery Officer. The CBO could task any assets within his realm for CB. Usually that would be the mdms and hys, but when necessary/suitable/practical that could and would include the field btys as well. In fact, sudden mass was generally desirable - 5 rounds from every gun in range is FAR more effective than 10-20 rounds from one or two medium or heavy regts.

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I'm not FA, but I can tell you that counter battery can easily be done through crater analysis.

In fact, I had to do crater analysis on a 60mm mortar during my time as a platoon leader in Iraq.

Its pretty easy. All you need is a metal rod and a compass and you can generally tell where the round came from.

Sort of. That 'only' tells you the bearing the rounds came in on, plus an rough indication of the range (based on the butterfly). You need lots of CAs to triangulate and derive useful locations (or a couple of good CAs coupled to some very detailed map recconaissance). Even then, CA has a pretty large margin of error - it'll generally only tell you the rough area to look in, not give you an 8 - or even 6 - figure grid.

The larger the calibre (and thus presumably the longer the range) the more innaccurate CA becomes A 10mil error over 2kms is good enough. But 10mils over 20 or 40kms ... not so much. And 10mils is probably pretty optimistic. Also, CA tends to ignore the effects of external balistics.

It's a useful adjunct, but it's not the final word. I would be very surprised if anyone fired a CB mission on the basis of a single CA.

By the by, I'd recommend a wooden rod next time ;)

Jon

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By the by, I'd recommend a wooden rod next time ;)

Jon

But the metal rod is so easily come by - and it telescopes up to fit nicely into a pack too: just "borrow" it from the nearest unoccupied vehicle.:D

Otherwise you have to battle someone for their broom - kicking a grandma in the shins to get her to let go just isn't done.

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