Question 2: What do I know about the terrain?
A thorough understanding of the terrain is essential to your evaluation of the enemy situation and developing your course of action. When it comes to shooting guns and moving multi ton vehicles around you have to become very familiar with the rolls of the terrain, the slope of those hills, vegetation thickness and the trafficability of the ground. Luckily each player can take advantage of a full scale 3D mock up of the terrain while conducting planning (the setup screen). I have narrowed terrain analysis down to three categories that I think will help the CMSF player make a quick yet beneficial assessment.
Key Terrain. This is terrain that in some way affects maneuver, fires, or gives a distinct advantage to one side or both. Bridges, tall buildings, marshes, and prominent hills are good examples.
Avenues of Approach. These are routes through the objective area that can be categorized by speed and size. The most favorable of those with the addition of cover and concealment in relation to the enemy’s likely positions will provide you with your maneuver corridors.
Line of Sight. This defines what ground the enemy can cover by fire, what routes you can use without being hindered by the enemy, and what positions you can use to maximize the effects of your fires on the enemy.
Terrain analysis for our scenario:
Key Terrain circled in purple. Basically for this map it’s simply the buildings that offer a height advantage to the terrain around them.
In urban environments we will often create sectors of the area to help in command and control. This will also help in creating a sequential assault plan based on the pieces of key terrain. More on how to use this later.
Key terrain with sector overlay:
Avenues of Approach
Skipping ahead slightly, I already know that my Decisive Point will most likely be establishing a foothold in the town. This is based on training and experience with this type of attack, not an assessment of this particular enemy or terrain. Once inside the town the actual clearing of it becomes a rather simple process of fire and maneuver. So establishing a foothold is the point where I feel I will win or lose the battle. I don’t doubt that I can gain one; the challenge will be in keeping my casualties to a minimum so that I can carry on the attack. Crossing the relatively open ground from my attack positions to the foothold building can potentially be a very costly maneuver. I have assessed AOAs to support this overall theme. AOA 1 and 3 are obvious routes into the town because the streets stick out from the main urban area and would be easy to establish a foothold in and then work into the town house by house. AOA 2 presents a different route but may be harder to break into since it is tied in tightly with the main urban area, giving the enemy a lot of options for firing positions and makes reinforcing that area quick and easy. It does, however, present another “point” onto which I can easily mass fires and isolate.
Line of Sight. This is probably the most important aspect of the terrain analysis and will really drive the rest of the planning. First, study the terrain from the enemy’s perspective. In the illustration below I have drawn in how the pieces of key terrain can affect the three different AOA that we have identified.
As you can see AOA 1 is covered by no less than five dominant key terrain positions, making it the worst to advance along. In addition three of those are fairly deep into the town, making them extremely hard to suppress. AOA 3 is covered by three positions only one of which is really safe from suppressive fires outside the town. AOA 2 is also covered by three positions but they are all located where they can be effectively suppressed from outside the town.
So now we have the essentials of terrain analysis for this map. Most of the actual maneuver in this scenario will be from treeline to house and then house to house. In other tutorials we will cover analyzing terrain for more open maneuver.