Thursday, June 21, 2018

Arma 3 - Recon Like a Russian

In the latest Armor Magazine issue there is an article by Lester Grau about reconnaissance in force. This article caught my interest because reconnaissance in force appears to mix combat and information-gathering just in the right proportion. Which is rich material for wargaming/simming.

It was hard to settle for one of the 3 modern warfare wargames/sims that I do have in my inventory (Steel Beasts ProPE, Combat Mission and Arma 3). In the end I chose Arma 3 because it features the T-140 Angara, an Armata T-14 wannabe which I barely had time for. Apparently, as mentioned in the article, the Armata has a target acquisition system that can relay direct and indirect fire missions to T-90s, air defense systems and also artillery assets.

I am short of time these days and I can't elaborate too much, but you are cordially invited to read the article for details about what I'm trying to do in this scenario.

Our area of operations. I'm in command of 2 T-140s, 2 MSE-3 Marid wheeled vehicles and some foot infantry to engage or drive away the enemy patrols which are operation near our line of departure. The ENY icons are red, which created some weird situations during the scenario playing (my troops have red icons too)

In any case, my mission was to gain a feeling for the enemy's dispostion and will to fight, seize their tactical HQ to capture prisoners and gather information.

The crammed interior of my tank, with an all digital view of the outside world. The turret is on top of us, moving side to side while we sit in the hull of the tank.

We were never short of good observation positions. We were supposed to use indirect fires to cover our movement forward by obscuration and/or suppression. In this image, I directed some artillery fire against an enemy defensive position. The fire was not accurate enough to destroy it, but at least kept the ENY suppressed.

The thermals of the T-140 worked perfectly even at great ranges.The enemy defenses were primarily infantry and easy to pick with the thermals.

The biggest disappointment with the T-140 was the un-buttoned view from the commanders' position. It may be useful in some cases, but the "top of the turret" view was sorely missed.

Greatest asset of the T-140, the ability as a commander to direct and fire a 30 mm cannon (big cross cross hairs, under my command) and the 125 mm main gun (small cross hairs, under the AI-gunner's command). In this screenshot, I chose the target for the gunner, ordered him to fire a HEAT round at an ENY position while I showered another ENY hideout with 30 mm rounds. Just an orgy of firepower. 

The infantry under my command, dismounted from their vehicles, was crucial for seizing the ENY HQ. But sooner than expected, the ENY counterattacked with armor (see cross hairs in the distance).

This allowed us to figure out the ENY's route for a counterattack. In this screenshot I'm directing my gunner's fire against the ENY armor.

But I made a critical mistake: I underestimated the ENY's strength and decided to stay for a fight. I should have not.

In retrospect, I should have made more careful plans for the aftermath of seizing the ENY HQ. I had not thought what would trigger our withdrawal from the depths of the ENY's defensive zone.



badanov said...

In a probe, you don't capture anything. The enemy's HQ is behind a very large security zone replete with patrols, strong points, and observation posts.

Your force will be immolated before you get even within five kilometers of the enemy's HQ.

Your best bet is to drive as far as you can, inflicting casualties until you get a counterattack too strong to resist without suffering casualties, then withdraw. You might get information and you might not, but in a probe the issue is to test strength.

I have a number of multiplexed scenarios about a Chernarus light rifle force crossing the Treshka River in Beketov, driving for an objective, holding that objective against a very strong counterattack (light infantry and technicals), then retreating. It is supposed to be modeled on how Slavic militaries conduct probes.

Marco Diaz said...

Nice, I wonder if in a world of satelites everywhere this unexpected armored counterattacks are possible? Perhaps if the mutual destruction of recon assets in the initial face of a war with a major power make them go kind of blind, but it seems to me that there is little hidden between earth and heaven in this tech times.

JC said...

Hi badanov. Always great to have you here. You make a great point, I will tweak this scenario with a smaller HQ and a deeper area.

Hi Marco. Thanks for reading. The thing with satellites is that the info is not always available at the right time.


Mike said...


Satellites are expensive to operate and are a national/strategic-level assets. There's no way a strategic asset would be diverted to look for anything below a Corps HQ in a conventional fight...its a waste of resources, and most ground armies have their own reconnaissance assets capable of locating.

What about drones? Drones are highly effective and available at most echelons but are susceptible to ground fire and SAM defenses.

Sometimes the best reconnaissance is done by humans, using the Mk1 eyeball.

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

@ JC

The Grau article says:

"The company’s mission is to determine enemy strength and dispositions, capture documents and prisoners and determine the strength and route of the counterattack force. The company will plan on withdrawing after one hour unless the enemy withdraws. If so, the company will provide support to a follow-on attack/pursuit."

It sounds more like a RAID than a reconnaissance patrol:

From ADRP 1-02 Operational Terms and Graphics:

"Raid – (DOD) An operation to temporarily seize an area in order to secure information, confuse an adversary, capture personnel or equipment, or to destroy a capability culminating with a planned withdrawal."

Versus the doctrinal definition of a Recon in Force

From ADRP 1-02:

"Reconnaissance in force – A deliberate combat operation designed to discover or test the enemy’s strength, dispositions, and reactions or to obtain other information."

JC said...

Hi Mike.

Yes, you are right. Thank you for bringing it up.
In all honesty, according to the ADRP, I should not have planned for seizing the HQ.


Mike said...


But you had the initiative, so might as well. This is part of another other philosoy called "Mission Command"

Good writeup

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering when will they have recon drones for tanks. Maybe not for each single tank (but on the other hand with all the modern technology why the hell not) but say an asset vechicle per each platoon with some small and stealthy drones.
Should increase the recon capabilities by large.


Anonymous said...

It's all headed out the window. Current doctrine and tactics.

The networked -sensored future battlefield will be so lethal.. It will be like 19th century native tribes facing repeating rifles and the machine gun. I suspect their will be a 'phoney war' or quiet period as both sides rearm with massive air and ground drone fleets.

You show up as human with your body heat, smart phone, sat-com... You are DEAD.