Monday, March 14, 2011

Maneuver Warfare: OODA Cycles - The Most Important One is Yours - Part 1

This series of blog entries are about the so-called "maneuver warfare" as explained by William Lind. The writings of Robert Leonhard will also be included. I claim neither expertise in the subject nor devotion to this way of waging wars and thus I am not trying to convert you into anything. This series is not an analysis or a review of all ideas about maneuver warfare but rather some explorations about the topic based on computer war games and simulations. Future entries will be delivered based in readership.

It is just another day in World War III and I am in command of the 2 Battalion 67th Armor with orders to defend in sector, some 3 km northwest of Norderfurt.

It is 1100 and intel of what to expect coming our way is sketchy at best. But for sure nothing less than a Soviet Motorized Regiment.

My sector is west of a river, and the decision of placing two full tank companies in two hills over watching a bridge was a no brainer.

Aggressive patrolling south of these positions by 6 M3 Bradleys revealed nothing of interest and when the Soviet advance guards showed up in the bridge, it was hard to believe how lucky I was to have two full tank companies with gun tubes aiming just there.

The bridge created a choke point and the vehicle-killing fest was on

Click the image for a better view. US forces' icons are green and Soviet forces' are red. West of the river, I have two companies in the hills north and south of the road that runs west from the bridge. It's a pity that this game doesn't have icons for destroyed vehicles so you could see how my forces destroyed almost a full Soviet battalion as it tried to establish a bridgehead. The green line represents fire from one M1 Abrams platoon targeting a Soviet mechanized infantry company trying to ford the river.
When the tide of battle is favoring him the mostest, the commander should be thinking hardest ...

In the screenshot above, note the company that I have in reserve west of the two hills where all the shooting is happening.

It was around 1300 and with all the butchery of enemy metal at the bridge I was in full pompous ass mode. If I can stop the Soviets so easily at the bridge, where should I commit my reserve for the final blow against the enemy? How can I mess the OODA cycle of the Soviets? I envisioned the most daring maneuver warfare fantasies, like keeping the enemy futily engaged in the "A" (action, cross the bridge) of the OODA cycle, while counter attacking from a flank so to give him another headache in his "Os" (observation and orientation of a new threat).

Then I started to notice my front units' fire slackening ...

Click the image for a better view. Clicking on the icon of one tank platoon revealed what it was a widespread issue with the units I have in contact: after 2 hours of continuous combat, they are tired and low in ammo. Enemy units are obscured by the smoke of artillery fire.

Troops need ammo and rest, I've learned. I have not planned for this and it is obvious that by the time the second wave of Soviet forces arrives, the tide of battle will likely brush aside my front line if I don't do something.

Whose OODA cycle is messed up now?

To be continued ...



Chris said...

Glad to see Flashpoint Germany appearing again - I find it fills neatly into a gap between Steel Beasts and the Operational Art of War - and helps explain both. Just need a bit of time to get to grips with it now...

Dimitris said...

Hey JC,

This is roughly the point at which "the book" called for the tacnukes to show up :). (At least until the mid/late-70s)

JC said...

Thanks for your comments, gents.

@Chris: spot on. This is a great war game. I wish I had the time to show the other readers the amount of detail it features.

@ Dimitris: :) You want the tacnukes now? Wait and see how ugly it gets in a couple of hours! :)


Jerry said...

It will be interesting to see how Flashpoint MidEast turns out, and Flashpoint Red Storm, which will feature the newer engine in Europe. It is supposed to come with a full set of editors, so people will be able to add maps and scenarios to them both. They have been in development for a very long time though so who knows when they will finally be done. They will be instant buys for me.

JC said...

Hi Jerry,

This engine packs a lot of war gaming and tactical decision making. It would be a pity to see it go. Crossing fingers!