Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Levels of Tactical Proficiency: The Advanced Wargamer and Terrain - Combat Mission Battle for Normandy

The advanced war gamer is not only able to recognize key terrain but also places a priority in that such terrain is used to his advantage.
After a thorough recon with three scout teams, the advanced war gamer found the main enemy positions (only some of them visible in this screenshot, grey icons) on the left flank. He sets up BAR teams at elevated positions covered by hedgerows (A and B). One additional position (C) will be occupied later by an additional BAR team when the suppressive fire catches up some steam (the position is in the middle of a road with not so good cover). One scout team (D) was left on the left flank to add some firepower closer to the river. Not labeled here but visible in the center foreground, the mortar team is on its way towards a firing position in the left flank. The advanced war gamer has already moved his maneuver teams to the right flank. An explanation for that follows shortly.

A BAR team on its way towards the support by fire position (B in the previous screenshot). The foliage of trees in the right flank offers great concealment.

With the suppression fire in full swing, multiple enemy positions have been observed. An scheme of maneuver is chosen based in terrain and enemy disposition. See text for a full explanation.
Based on the mission, the enemy, the terrain and time available, the scheme of maneuver of the advanced war gamer is:
  • The enemy's main effort is likely leaning on the left flank.
  • An approach towards the ford using the center road (orange arrow) would expose the US infantry to enemy fire from multiple positions. An approach to the ford from the right flank (thick green arrow) is preferred.
  • Suppressive fire priority is given to enemy positions with fields of fire on the ford (E1 through E4).
  • Once across the river, assault teams are to take advantage of the cover and concealment offered by the wooded terrain on the right flank (thin green arrow).
  • From the wooded terrain in the right flank the assault teams are to clear the right side of the hedgedrow line that flows from the high terrain towards the river. Key terrain are positions labeled "T" and "U" (green star icons), from which enemy teams in positions E1, E2 and maybe E4 can be destroyed by direct fire.
  • Once enemy teams occupying positions E1 and E2 are destroyed, a covered approach to the left flank will be possible.

A closer look at the left flank, showing multiple enemy positions. Note the relative elevation of the position of the BAR team in the near center (three men team in the vertex of the two hedgerow lines).

US infantry nearing the ford from the right flank. Right up to this point, they have been hugging the hedgerow to their left. The enemy position "E3" proved to be too tough to suppress, so smoke was used to conceal the final approach to the river.

A panorama of the battle. Two US infantry teams are already across the river and moving to the right flank.

US infantry moving through the woods across the river. No contact, all the enemy forces appear to be on the left flank.

Upon reaching position "U" (see scheme of maneuver graphic above), the US infantry finds some German teams exposed on the wrong side of the hedgerows. Surprisingly, despite being seemingly exposed, eliminating them was not a quick affair.
A birds eye view of a US infantry team approaching position "T". That unsuspecting German (position "E1") will not see the end of the day.

From position "T", maneuvering to clear the hedges on the left flank. The thick green arrows are US infantry movements. Note how moving through the newly acquired real state has allowed the US forces to engage German infantry on the left flank from the cover of the hedgerow marked with a green diamond. The thin green arrows are fields of fire of US units suppressing the last German LMG team.
A US infantry squad moves past a destroyed enemy position.
Despite the success clearing the German enemy positions, US casualties increased during the last assaults. The enemy team in the screenshot above (originally labeled E3 in the scheme of maneuver above), lobbed two grenades as a US assault team approached. In the blink of an eye, this grenade inflicted four casualties. The final assault on the last enemy position (screenshot below), despite heavy suppressive fire from two US teams, brought the tally up to 8 casualties. After all the feats accomplished (crossing the river and maneuvering through the depth of the battlefield with very low casualties), the heavy toll of these assaults was disheartening.

The last enemy position, with lingering smoke from a grenade that should have fallen way shorter.
The victory screen.

The advanced war gamer shows the following traits:
  • Recognizes crucial terrain (high ground in this scenario) and within that terrain, the micro features that are significant for a given tactical situation (positions "T" and "U" opened the enemy's flank within minutes).
  • His scheme of maneuver is not reactive, but proactive. Proactive as making an effort in finding ways to use that crucial terrain to fight the battle in his own terms rather than dictated by the enemy's particular positions.
  • An emphasis of using terrain to his own advantage rather than just denying the use of crucial terrain to the enemy.


Anonymous said...

Excellent series, JC.
Hope you make more of this.

THX, Koen

glaterza said...

Nice one! I´ll take this to my batallion for discussion

JC said...

Thanks Koen! More stuff is coming.
@ Laterza: :) That's great.