I'm currently playing The Operational Art of War IV (Matrix/Slitherine) and in this Cold War scenario ("British Army of the Rhine 1990") I'm in the perilous situation of an under-prepared and outnumbered NATO force. The Soviets just sent their advance guards through the border and I'm to hold them at the Weser River. A huge frontage that favors mass and maneuver.
This brings up the very basic concept of center of gravity, the "characteristics, capabilities or locations from which a military force derives its freedom of action, physical strength or will to fight" (Joint Publication 3.0).
In the screenshot above, you clearly see that my meager troops (grey, brown and black icons) can't afford to hold Hannover or Braunschweig. It would be very easy for the Soviets to just encircle these cities. A center of gravity of the enemy is indeed his capability to maneuver at will through those plains.
|A wide view of the area of operations. Note the Weser River in the left, with all the objectives I need to hold.|
Indeed, the old FM 100-5 recognizes that the search for centers of gravity should be continuous, as they do change through the battle.
I am just starting the scenario and the collapse of the thin front line is evident. I'm barely managing a withdraw right now. But, the cavalry units on my right flank have found that they can move and seize enemy routes of supply. That's the only enemy center of gravity that I can challenge right now.
|Belgian troopers are red on white icons.|
There is hope ...