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Tactics Tutorials for CMSF


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Hello all!

Does the community need a few tutorials on what to do once you figure out how to move all that stuff around on the battlefield?

I am a currently serving US Army infantry officer who spends an aweful lot of his free time these days playing CMSF. The Army is getting more and more into simulations so my interest shouldnt come as a surprise to anyone here. However, I first started playing CM ten years ago and was very prolific in the Forums back then as "ScoutPL." If you are bored cross eyed one night and looking for some entertaining reading, do a search for my username in the CM archives. You'll be laughing and crying all at the same time at the catfighting that went on back then between a bunch of grown men. I also had a number of tactics tutorials that were very popular and I eventually put on my own website for people to access. Alas, that website and the attached tutorials are long gone.

I am currently playing a number of different opponents in PBEM and through my various discussions have found that perhaps there would be some interest in some new tutorials for CMSF. Particularly considering we are now playing with modern weapons and equipment, which correspondingly, work best when they are used as they were designed doctrinally from the ground up.

I am not proposing to write tutorials on how to get your squad to maneuver into a building and clear it using the game mechanics. Nor how to get a tank to shoot and scoot. That stuff has been adequately covered already. I want to cover topics such as the Mechanized Platoon in the Attack, Company Team in Urban Operations, that sort of thing. The sort of things that after you graduate from CMSF basic and have an understanding of how to move around without getting your butt handed to you, you might want to learn how to maneuver all those units around the battlefield so they are mutually supporting and your fires are massed in the right place at the right time. In other words, how to hand your opponent his butt!

You can read all sorts of FMs and go to fancy schools where you learn how to gauge the length of the lecture by the number of powerpoint slides to be presented, as I have done for thirteen years, or with enough encouragement I would be persuaded to take all that knowledge and real world experience I have and put it into some easy to read and understand tutorials for all you wee little grognards in training out there (yes everyone has Grognard potential).

So drop a reply on here if you might be interested in this sort of thing and let me know what medium would work best (powerpoint, word document, video - this would take longer of course but doable). Given enough interest I will get on it (at least while I am in another one of those tedious Army schools and have nothing better to do).

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I would be very interested in reading what you have to offer. There is a certain amount of stuff on the forums (not least the community strategy guide http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=88746) but one thing that is really lacking is practical lessons instead of theoretical concepts. What you are suggesting sounds perfect.

Your two suggestions sound excellent, and an introduction to practical combined arms manoeuvre would be very useful as well. If I had to make a request for format it would be written, with lots of annotated diagrams and screenshots but don't feel constrained by that!

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Hi, ScoutPL,

That is a fantastic offer you are proposing us. Personally, I would rather favour word and or Power Point with diagrams, rather than video.

Taking pleasure in the design of scenarios having some credibility and a tactical issue, your actual background will be of a great help in determining which actual and sound tactic is best in a given situation.

If I can be of any help, in designing very short tutorial scenarios based on your advices, on which players would try to apply your tactical lesson, let me know.

Cheers

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Yes, this sounds very interesting. Thanks for offering.

I would also love to see some explanations as to WHY certain doctrines, or formations/weapon load-outs etc have been determined to be the best combination in what situations - when you consider how differently other nationalities handle their squad/platoon compositions and the same situations.

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jnt62006: Thanks...

I am not sure how to phrase this, but I am puzzled/confused at the profound differences between nationalities, even between UA Army and Marine doctrines, and the way their formations are designed differently from platoon level and above.

For example:

Since all the countries are basically fighting a similar war, how come some vehicles are designed for only 6 troops, others for more than 13? Why do the Brits have so much less HE ammo supply in their AFV's than other nationalities? Etc. In other words, what is the thinking behind how the nationalities have built their forces?

One would have thought that in this day and age, all the NATO countries at least would have very similar TO&E's. But, they are quite different, as if prepping for completely different wars rather than being designed to be interchangeable for cooperative NATO ventures.

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OK well these topics could be covered in a college level national security course but I will try to boil it down for you.

The key term in your question is "Nationalities." Even our closest allies, the brits, have a long history all their own and their own ideas and experiences that have shaped their doctrine over the years. They aren't just going to set all that aside and adopt US weapons and doctrine. I say the US because we are obviously the largest and most experienced (currently) of the NATO countries so it would make sense that if there were a dominant doctrine adopted by NATO it would be ours. But let me reiterate, that would never happen. A similar thing did happen in the Warsaw Pact of the cold war. But that was all done at the tip of a Soviet bayonet.

The other National issue is, of course, money. I.E. war production. All of the western nations have large war production infrastructure. No where near the size of the US "military-industrial complex" but proportional to their size and GNP. They do this for two reasons. One, they never know when they might be on their own in a fight and need their own war production. Two, its all about jobs, mate. And they arent going to build vehicles for General Dynamics.

National differences in vehicles and their capabilites goes back to each country and I cant really speak to those. But I can surmise the reason for the low HE ammo count on Warriors just based on experience. The Warrior lacks an ATGM system like most other IFVs. That makes the 30mm the primary (and only) AT weapon. Hence, the preponderance of APDS rounds for the gun. In all actuality the load would be tailored to the enemy and the mission. For example, Bradleys in Iraq in 2005 carried a lot more HE over APDS than the Bradleys in Iraq in 1991. Different mission, enemy and terrain. High intensity conflcit vs COIN, mech forces vs insurgents, open desert vs urban terrain. But to allow a player in CMSF to manually adjust the ammo load before a game is probably beyond the scope or capabilities of the programming.

As far as the difference between the US Army and the US Marines, well if you can get 10 Marines in a room, together they might be able to come up with an answer. Just kidding. The marines mission and budget is closely tied to the US Navy and its mandate to conduct amphibious operations (which they are actually getting away from, preferring to turn the USMC into a large helicopter force instead). But that is why they have AAVs instead of Brads. The US Navy just refuses to buy them both, understandably. The other equipment follows a similar logic.

As far as the squad size, that goes back at least as far as WW1. The marines have steadily followed the premise that after a few casualties the rifle squad becomes ineffective. So to maximize its longevity in combat it keeps its strength at 13, the optimal size that battlefield analysis over the decades has said will work. That is mostly influenced by leadership. It is a basic premise that the most one man can control is 3-4 other sub units. So a fire team has four individuals. A marine squad has three fire teams led by a squad leader (13 pax). A platoon four squads led by a Platoon Commander, etc.

After Vietnam the US Army cut it rifle squad strength to 9 (2 fire teams and a SL) and moved the GPMGs to a weapons squad. This was done as a cost saving measure. The Army wanted to keep its 20+ division strength to battle the gnarly Soviets but the US public kept cutting the funds. The idea being that you could have a "hollow force" that could be rapidly expanded through conscription in a time of war, i.e. the squads could be expanded to 13 raising the overall force strength significantly. But somebody convinced the Army in the 80's that it could buy an IFV (Brad), put a 6 man "squad" in the back and the IFV's firepower and maneuverability would more than replace the loss in foot soldiers. Works great until you need foot soldiers. Hence the mech battalions having real issues in the heavy urban combat in Iraq in the early stages of the war. It didnt take long before a rifle platoon was reduced by casualties in its rifle squads (essentially 2 squads in reality) to ineffectiveness. The solution was the stryker battalion. It offered enough armor protection to the grunts and allowed the retention of the nine man squad.

The ironic point is that the US Army has been fielding the 9 man squad (even in its light infantry organizations) so long it has lost sight of the fact it was supposed to be a temporary entity and a peace time one at that.

For a very useful and indepth explanation and analysis of this topic I would urge anyone interested to get a copy of "A Perspective on Infantry" by John English. It is currently out of print but if you look hard enough you might find a copy. Well worth the effort.

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Very interesting info on the Bradley. I used to be in charge of our infantry in an ArmA unit, and nothing vexed me more than the fact that I couldn't get all of our squad into 1 bradley. We had to have 1 fireteam ride in the Bradley, and another follow in a Humvee. not ideal.

I love the Bradley, but ultimately we started going with Strykers just for the cargo capacity.

They really should come out with a new bradley variant with more room for troops. You basically need 3 Strykers to match the potential firepower of 1 bradley (1 IFV for the MG, 1 MGS for the 40mm's, and 1 ATGM for the AT). Either that, or a Stryker with all 3 of those systems in place.

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If you ever get to see a real Bradley you will wonder how 6 fully loaded infantry man with all their weapons and kit can fit in the back of one, much less all the extra ammo, missiles, water food and everything else. Thats why US vehicles always look like gypsy wagons. We appreciate our creature comforts so whatever cant fit inside gets tied, strapped, welded or stuck to the outside. Which is usually a lot. The issue of adding more troops is usually a powertrain, maneuverability, size issue. The vehicles we have today are really the result of 50 years of trying to get the balance just right. If you want more of one thing you have to give up something else. More troops = less armor and weaponry, the Stryker.

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What about a series of tactical decision games / vignettes similar to these examples but adopted to the scale and reality (game mechanics) of CM:

Tactical vignettes

Tactical decision games

E. g., someone would post a certain situation how it really occured in a scenario. Then you can submit proposals and the rationale behind it. When you use situations from actual scenarios the author could even attach a savegame file so you can take a look at the situation for real and try out the different proposals afterwards.

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A very good post from jnt62006 above.

The issue of the HE ammo carried by the British Warriors is one that has annoyed me since the UK Module was first released. If memory serves Battlefront have explained this by saying the balance between anti-armour and anti-personnel rounds given in the game was in accordance with British Doctrine in place at the time the module was being designed. Such an explanation is, of course, nonsense because, as jnt62006 points out, the ammo load is, and always has been, mission dependent. However, CM:SF was conceived as a game based on state-on-state hot-war and if you think you are running up against an armoured division, having lots of ammo designed to take out BMPs would be a good idea. The game has matured (in terms of scenarios offered) in a different way than originally intended has left BF's ammo load decision high and dry. Annoying but understandable.

What I cannot for the life of me understand is the ammo loads carried by the British infantry in the game. They are sufficient for two minutes of full-on combat and that is it. Well, that just isn't correct and never was. I did my soldiering long ago, but as a section GPMG gunner I could keep up full-on, bi-pod fire for longer than that on normal section ammo loads. Read any first-hand account you like of modern British infantry in action and you won't find them running low after two minutes.

BF produce very good games, but they don't always get it right (MG effectiveness in CMBO, anyone remember those debates?).

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Yessir. I'd sign right up for that exercise. Any RL tactics that are applicable to SF tutorials would be appreciated as well.

IDK why but I found it much easier to apply real tactics to CMx1 games, probably due to the lower lethality level of the weapons. I have stopped really trying in CMx2, subscribing to the plaster any place a RPG/ATGM might be philosophy to date. You noticed this already. Although real opponents have changed my thinking quite a bit.

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Very useful comments above jnt. Thanks. (And in the CM1 thread, presumably you were ScoutPL?)

So, the widely differing sizes of squads is due to the smaller squads being initially intended to be only a peacetime core? That means that ANY casualties essentially puts that squad OOA? And when one considers that that core has been driving the carrying capacity/size of AFV's, it makes me think that the entire mil structure of all NATO forces is one huge fu.

Re tuturials: Since we already have the marverllous assets of another player posting his videos of each battle in the German(?) Campaign, would it be possible/a good idea to have you critique what that player did, and when you think a different course of action would have been more appropriate..?

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I basically relayed what I have learned/remembered from studying the history of the rifle squad over the years so please don't take my comments as gospel. But that is the gist of it yes, the smaller squads were initially intended to be expanded in war time. Whenever the decision was made to cut the Army they simply took entire divisions of the books and left the TO&E the same. It became institutionalized and has simply never been addressed since. The Marines played it smart and kept the squad at 13, mostly I expect because they expected to be in combat at any moment, rather than counting on an extensive buildup like the Army did.

And yes with just nine men a squad can become ineffective quickly. With one or two guys tasked to do other things or home on R&R it was not uncommon to roll into major engagements with just 7 or 8 guys instead of the tabled 9. Thats if you were manned at 100% to begin with. If you were a Bradley unit then 3 of the nine (or seven or eight) operated the Bradley leaving you with perhaps 4 or 5 dismounts. Perhaps 12-15 for the entire platoon. Take one casualty per squad and that leaves you with an understrength squad. Four nice big devastating butt kicking IFVs and 8 riflemen. No wonder you have guys coming back with PTSD right?

I am not sure which came first, the total adoption of the 9 man squad or the Bradley. Depends on which conspiracy theorist you ask. Bottom line is we have what we have and Joe is making the best of it, just like he always has. And not doing too bad a job either.

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