Monday, October 19, 2009

Hasty Defense of a Built Up Area by a USMC Squad, Part 2 (ArmA 2 Tactical Vignette)

This blog entry is a continuation from a previous one and contains some general considerations for the fire plan to be used in the hasty defense of Pogorevka.

Organizing the Squad for this fight
A USMC squad is composed of 3 fire teams plus a squad leader. In this vignette I have the role of squad leader.

Pop quiz!
Who are the most important men in each of your fireteams? What ... ? Don't make me go all Lee Ermey on you, maggot! :)

Yes, I knew you knew it. "The" men in each of the fireteams are the automatic riflemen (AR), each of whom carry an squad automatic weapon (SAW). If you didn't know the answer, put a sticky on top of your monitor: the SAW is the backbone, the bedrock and the foundation of the USMC fireteam.

Of such importance these AR bastards are, that for the defense of Pogorevka I'm going to detach each one of them from their respective fireteams and place them under my direct control. The Marines remaining will be organized as three depleted fireteams (groups Red, Blue and Yellow).

It takes a village to kill an enemy patrol
The USMC is the first and only US Armed Forces branch to fully embrace the so-called maneuver warfare theory. This theory makes a strong emphasis on the destruction of the enemy rather than on holding terrain just for the sake of it. More often than not, the budding maneuverist tactician overlooks the subtle difference between holding terrain as a goal and holding terrain as a mean to destroy the enemy. So let's put this clearly then: defensive operations are tied to the terrain ... but ... once we set up a fire plan from our positions in the village, each particular position will be a means of destroying the enemy. As soon as any particular position becomes irrelevant to the destruction of the enemy, the boots are moving to a new one.

I walked all the way down to this village, and all I got is into a kill zone
Let's review how a defensive fire plan is made:
  1. Guess the enemy's main route of attack.
  2. Select the ground where you will destroy the enemy if he follows the main route of attack. We will call this ground "kill zone".
  3. Provisionally position key weapon systems in a way that their primary sectors of fire interlock into the kill zone.
  4. Guess how the enemy would react to your deployment and fire or guess an alternate route of attack.
  5. Select the ground where you will destroy the enemy if he follows the alternate route of attack. We will call this "secondary kill zone".
  6. Refine your previous provisional key weapon systems positioning in a way that they now cover both kill zones.
  7. If needed, guess an additional route of attack, rinse and repeat the kill zone and key weapons positioning thing.
  8. Position the fireteams to observe and protect the flanks of your key weapon systems.
Don't get stranded into an endless cycle of fire plan refinements. For a squad-sized defensive formation, three enemy avenues of approach and kill zones is already an overkill (pun intended). Also, don't forget that for each key weapon system, a single fire position will probably not be enough and you will have to think of a secondary firing position. If you do so, make sure that the move between primary and secondary firing positions is across a well covered route. It may look like a puzzle, but remember that tactical problems do not have a unique solution, not even an absolute optimal solution. It is useless to chew forever on a tactical problem: no plan survives contact with the enemy, just make sure YOUR MARINES survive your fire plan. :)

Key weapons in keyhole positions
You guessed it, the key weapons mentioned above are the SAWs. Now, one important thing about the positioning of SAWs: position them in places with narrow and deep sectors of fire (also known as keyhole positions). This avoids the SAWs being targeted by multiple enemy units. Imagine that: your SAWs shredding the advancing enemy units to pieces and the enemy not being able to do anything because his overwatch teams cannot target you. A good SAW firing position should have defiles on both sides and have its flanks protected by other fireteam members.

We don't need no stinking reserve
Reserves are a luxury that only company (and above)-sized forces can afford. As a squad leader you will have to make up your reserves out of thin air by moving a fire team out of contact and re-deploying it into the needed sector or position. Sorry. Life is hard at the botton of the command structure, deal with it.

Coming up: my fire plan for the hasty defense of Pogorevka. With (very much needed after all the words above) screenies!


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