Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tutorial 1.0 Introduction

Ok, so you’ve played Combat Mission for a while now and have figured out how to move your units around, give them fire orders, and make stuff go boom.  But you find yourself at the beginning of every scenario wishing you had some handy advice or guidelines on how to actually plan a movement to contact or to seize the village just over the ridge, all the while keeping your casualties to a minimum.  These tutorials are designed specifically for you, my friend!  While avoiding game mechanics and doctrinal theory, I want to present “a way ahead” so to speak for players who may not be all that versed in military tactics. 
The tricky thing to understand about tactics is that there is no “book answer.”  Most everyone is familiar with sports so I will use that worn out analogy.  A football, basketball, whateverball coach always has a playbook full of detailed plans on what he wants his players to do, all designed to give an edge over the opponent team.  The opposing team is also following a playbook and is implementing a plan.  But as any casual observer knows, once the ball is in motion those plans require constant modification by the players.  This usually disrupts both side’s plans and the players (usually with some direction from the team leadership on the field) have to adapt to the changing situation quickly.  But without the initial plan the team would have never been able to even begin to move forward effectively.  It is impossible for a coach (or a doctrine writer) to anticipate all that can happen on the field and develop a plan for each scenario accordingly.  So for any given situation there is no “book answer.”  Instead what we have are guidelines, concepts and drills that help us develop a plan and then react effectively when the situation changes.
In layman’s terms tactics can really be divided into two categories.  I will call these (1) Planning Considerations and (2) Battle Drills (I am in no way using these in a doctrinal manner hence the use of the term layman).  Planning Considerations are the meat and potatoes that a commander (platoon, company, or battalion) uses to draw up his plan for an operation.  He has a playbook that lays out a template for how to conduct a defense, a deliberate attack, urban operations, etc.  It is then up to him to study the terrain, enemy situation, his forces, and his specific mission and using the template as a guide, develop a plan that will work and preserve his force.  These tutorials will provide the CMSF player with those templates.   The second category is Battle Drills.  These come into play after the initial plan is started and really apply below the platoon level.  Though a company sized organization can have a battle drill for, say, occupy assembly area or refueling operations, these are usually called Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).  SOPs are essentially Battle Drills on a bigger scale.  Battle drills are so universal the US Army only has 8 or so.  (Doctrine is very fluid these days due to a constantly changing operating environment.)  Everyone in the Army receives training in these battle drills at some point but they are the granite base that every combat arms leader builds on.  Drills are what a unit executes when faced with an enemy force that wasn’t planned for.  The unit may be able to overwhelm the enemy force or simply fix them so that a higher HQ can make an assessment and modify or scrap the plan.  Drills are usually trained to such a degree that every soldier knows what to do next.  Basically when you order a tank in CM to crest a hill and the tank fires at an enemy vehicle that it spots, it is conducting a React to Contact Drill, all without you having to do anything.  This takes some of the effect out of the surprise that comes with stumbling into an enemy unit that wasn’t expected.  I will not spend a lot of time on Drills since they are usually what occur between your friendly lines and the objective.  CM really covers the “last hundred yards” so to speak, or the actions on the objective.  Most of what you will want to do in the 30-45 minutes of a CM scenario can be preplanned, so battle drills rarely come into play.  I will focus on Planning Considerations for a variety of missions, but first we need to hit some theory and doctrine with a broad brush.
These are the all-encompassing terms and theories that frame any discussion of tactics and so therefore need to be addressed.
Principles of War:  First penned by Clausewitz, most armies have a short list of principles that they use to build a framework for analyzing and discussing military operations.  Here is the Wikipedia link that lists some of the most prominent (I, of course, am really only familiar with the US list).
Read these and become familiar with them, at the very least you will sound impressive next time the water cooler discussion turns to military news.  Seriously though, if you want to really understand how an army thinks and fights these fundamentals are essential.
Tenets of Army Operations:  Add these to the list.  This is the list of the “must haves” for successful operations.  Usually when a defeated party analyzes why they lost the reason will be one of these. 

Offensive Operations
Chapter 4, FM 3-21.10 27 July 2006
4-1. The characteristics of the offense are surprise, tempo, concentration, and audacity. Due to the nature of modern offensive operations, flexibility is included in the following discussion of the offense. For each mission, the commander decides how to apply these characteristics to focus the effects of his combat power against enemy weakness. Detailed planning is critical to achieve a synchronized and effective operation. Instead of ‘fighting the plan,’ commanders should exploit enemy weaknesses.
4-2. Units achieve surprise by striking the enemy at a time, place, or manner in which he is unprepared. Total surprise is rarely essential or attainable. Simply delaying or disrupting the enemy's reaction by attacking where he least expects is usually effective. Surprise delays the enemy's reactions, stresses his command and control, and induces psychological shock in enemy soldiers and leaders. Surprise may allow an attacker to succeed with fewer forces. The company's ability to attack in limited visibility or through restrictive terrain, to operate in small units, and to infiltrate are often key to achieve surprise. The company must exploit the effects of surprise before the enemy can recover.
4-3. Tempo is the rate of military action relative to the enemy. Tempo is not the same as speed. Controlling or altering tempo is essential for maintaining the initiative. Tempo promotes surprise, keeps the enemy off balance, contributes to the security of the attacking force, and prevents the defender from taking effective countermeasures. By increasing tempo, commanders maintain momentum.
4-4. When properly controlled and exploited, tempo confuses and immobilizes the defender until the attack becomes unstoppable. Leaders build tempo into operations through careful planning, synchronization, coordination, and transition to the next operation.
4-5. The company increases its tempo by using simple plans, quick decision making, decentralized control, mission orders, and rehearsed operations. The company maintains tempo by ensuring sustainment operations are well coordinated and continuous, thus preventing culmination.
4-6. The attacker masses the effects of combat power at the decisive point to achieve the unit's purpose. Leaders concentrate the effects of their combat power, while trying not to concentrate forces.
4-7. Because the attacker often moves across terrain the enemy has prepared, he might expose himself to enemy fires. By concentrating overwhelming combat power at a weak area or system, the attacker can reduce the effectiveness of the enemy fires and the amount of time he (the attacker) is exposed to enemy fires.
4-8. The challenge for the company commander is to concentrate combat power, while reducing the enemy's ability to do the same against the friendly unit. Actions that cause the enemy to shift combat potential away from the intended decisive point yield a greater advantage, for example, moving dispersed, but concentrating at the last moment and using deception. The commander employs his Infantry capabilities to achieve overwhelming combat power at the decisive point.
4-9. Audacity is a simple plan of action, boldly executed. The audacious commander develops confidence by conducting a thorough estimate. His actions, although quick and decisive, are based on a reasoned approach to the tactical situation and on his knowledge of his Soldiers, the enemy, and the terrain.  He is daring and original, but he is not rash.
4-10. Audacious commanders throughout history have used the indirect approach. They maneuver to maintain a position of advantage over the enemy, seek to attack the enemy on the flank or rear, and exploit success at once, even if this briefly exposes their own flanks.
4-11. Boldness and calculated risks have always been the keystones of successful offensive operations.  However, risks must be consistent with the higher commander's mission and intent. Commanders dispel uncertainty through action; they compensate for a lack of information by seizing the initiative and pressing the fight.
4-12. Although not a characteristic of the offense, FM 3-90 (Tactics) says that flexibility bears discussion. At some point in most attacks, the original plan must be adjusted to meet changes in the situation. The commander maintains flexibility at all times so he can attack identified enemy weaknesses when they are presented. The commander should avoid ‘fighting the plan’ and instead focus on fighting the enemy or attacking identified enemy weaknesses. Mission orders, a clear commander's intent, and competent subordinate leaders who exercise initiative ensure that proper adjustments are made.
4-13. The commander and subordinate leaders must expect uncertainties and be ready to exploit opportunities. The flexibility required often depends on the amount of reliable intelligence the commander has on the enemy.
4-14. The commander builds flexibility into his plan during the MDMP. By conducting a thorough war game and rehearsals, he develops a full appreciation for possible enemy actions. A reserve increases the company commander's flexibility.
4-15. The four types of offensive operations, described in FM 3-90, are movement to contact (MTC), attack, exploitation, and pursuit. Companies can execute MTC and attack.
4-16. An attack is an offensive operation that destroys enemy forces, seizes or secures terrain, or both.  Movement, supported by fires, characterizes the conduct of an attack. The company will likely participate in a synchronized attack. However, a company may conduct a special purpose attack as part of, or separate from, an offensive or defensive operation. Special purpose attacks consist of ambush, spoiling attack, counterattack, raid, feint, and demonstration.
4-17. An MTC is a type of offensive operation designed to develop the situation and establish or regain contact. The company may conduct an MTC on its own or as part of a larger unit's operation when the enemy situation is vague or not specific enough to conduct an attack.
4-20. Each form of maneuver attacks the enemy differently. Each poses different challenges for attackers and different dangers for defenders. Maneuver places the enemy at a disadvantage through the application of friendly fires and movement. The five forms of maneuver follow.
4-21. Envelopment is a form of maneuver in which an attacking force seeks to avoid the principal enemy's defenses by seizing objectives to the enemy rear or flank in order to destroy him in his current positions (Figure 4-1). A successful envelopment requires discovery or creation of an assailable flank. The envelopment is the preferred form of maneuver because the enemy must fight in at least two directions and the attacking force tends to suffer fewer casualties while having the most opportunities to destroy the enemy. Envelopments focus on--
Seizing terrain.
Destroying specific enemy forces.
Interdicting enemy withdrawal routes.

4-22. Turning movement is a form of maneuver in which the attacking force avoids the enemy's principal defensive positions by seizing objectives to the enemy's rear and causing the enemy to move out of his current positions, or to divert major forces to meet the threat (Figure 4-2). For a successful turning movement, the unit trying to turn the enemy must attack something that the enemy will fight to save. This might be a supply route, artillery emplacement, or headquarters. In addition to attacking a target the enemy will fight to save, the attacking unit should be strong enough to pose a real threat to the enemy. The attacker seeks to secure key terrain deep in the enemy's rear and along his lines of communication. Faced with a major threat to his rear, the enemy is turned out of his defensive positions and forced to attack rearward.
4-23. Infiltration is a form of maneuver. In an infiltration, an attacking force moves undetected into or through the enemy's main defenses, that is, an area occupied by an enemy forces. The purpose of an infiltration is to occupy a position of advantage in the enemy rear area to concentrate combat power against enemy weak points. Ideally, an infiltration exposes only small elements to enemy defensive fires (Figure 4-3). Moving and assembling forces covertly through enemy positions takes a lot of time.
A successful infiltration reaches the enemy's rear without fighting through prepared positions. A company may conduct an infiltration as part of a larger unit's attack with the battalion employing another form of maneuver. The company commander may also employ maneuver by infiltration to move his platoons to locations to support the battalion's attack. Companies can infiltrate--
To attack enemy-held positions from an unexpected direction.
To occupy a support-by-fire position to support an attack.
To secure key terrain.
To conduct ambushes and raids.
To conduct a covert breach of an obstacle.

4-24. Penetration is a form of maneuver in which an attacking force seeks to rupture enemy defenses on a narrow front to create both assailable flanks and access to the enemy's rear (Figure 4-4). Penetration is used when enemy flanks are not assailable, when enemy defenses are overextended, when weak spots in the enemy defense are identified, and when time does not permit some other form of maneuver. A penetration normally consists of three steps.
1.      Breach the enemy's main defense positions.
2.      Widen the gap created to secure flanks by enveloping one or both of the newly exposed flanks.
3.      Seize the objective. As part of a larger force penetration, the company will normally isolate, suppress, fix, or destroy enemy forces; breach tactical or protective obstacles in the enemy's main defense (secure the shoulders of the penetration); or seize key terrain. A battalion may also use penetration to secure a foothold within a large built-up area.

4-25. Frontal attack is a form of maneuver in which an attacking force seeks to destroy a weaker enemy force or fix a larger enemy force along a broad front. It is the least desirable form of maneuver, because it exposes the attacker to the concentrated fire of the defender and limits the effectiveness of the attacker's own fires. However, the frontal attack is often the best form of maneuver for an attack in which speed and simplicity are key; it helps overwhelm weak defenses, security outposts, or disorganized enemy forces.
Most CMSF offensive forms of maneuver will be Frontal Attack, Turning Movement and Envelopment.  Mostly Frontal Attack due to the small map sizes in most of the scenarios.  A penetration is really a higher level form of maneuver and Infiltrations would take forever and require a huge map.
Defensive Operations
The immediate purpose of defensive actions is to resist, defeat, or destroy an enemy attack and gain the initiative for the offense. Defensive operations defeat an enemy attack, buy time, economize forces, or develop conditions favorable for offensive operations. Defensive actions alone are not normally decisive; frequently, they are combined with or followed by offensive action. Though the outcome of decisive combat derives from offensive actions, commanders often find that it is necessary, even advisable, to defend. Once commanders make this choice, they must set the conditions for the defense in a way that allows friendly forces to withstand and hold the enemy while they prepare to seize the initiative and return to the offense. A thorough understanding of the commander's intent is especially critical in defensive operations, which demand precise integration of combat, combat service, and sustainment elements.
5-1. As part of defensive operations, the company may defend, delay, withdraw, or counterattack. The company may also perform security tasks. The company normally defends, as part of the battalion's defense, in the main battle area (MBA). The three types of defensive operations are—
5-2. Concentrates on denying the enemy access to designated terrain for a specified time, rather than the outright destruction of the enemy.
5-3. Orients on the destruction of the enemy through a decisive attack(s) by a striking force.
5-4. Forced or voluntary organized movements to the rear or away from the enemy.
5-5. The immediate purpose of a defensive operation is to defeat an enemy attack and gain the initiative for offensive operations. The Infantry company may also conduct the defense to achieve one or more of the following purposes.
Gain time.
Retain key terrain.
Support other operations.
Preoccupy the enemy in one area while friendly forces attack him in another.
Erode enemy forces at a rapid rate while reinforcing friendly operations.
5-6. The characteristics of the defense are also planning fundamentals for the Infantry company. These characteristics include preparation, security, disruption, massing effects, and flexibility. (FM 3-90 explains the two defensive patterns, area and mobile.)
5-7. The defender arrives in the battle area before the attacker. He must take advantage of this by making the most thorough preparations for combat possible in the time available. By analyzing the factors of METT-TC, the Infantry rifle company commander gains an understanding of the tactical situation and identifies potential friendly and enemy weaknesses. He then war-games friendly and enemy options and synchronizes his concept of the operation with all available combat multipliers.
5-8. The goals of the company security effort are to deceive the enemy as to the location of friendly locations, strengths, and weaknesses. They also inhibit or defeat enemy reconnaissance operations.  Security also provides early warning and disrupts enemy attacks early and continuously.
5-9. Defensive plans vary with the circumstances, but all defensive concepts of operation aim at disrupting the attacker's synchronization. Counterattacks, indirect fires, obstacles, and retention of key, or decisive terrain prevent the enemy from concentrating his strength against portions of the defense.  Destroying enemy command and control vehicles disrupts enemy synchronization and flexibility.
5-10. The successful defender concentrates combat power at the decisive time and place. Through massing effects, he can obtain a local advantage at points of decision. Offensive action and the use of surprise and deception are often the means of gaining this advantage. Concentration refers to combat power and its effects ― not just numbers of Soldiers and weapons systems. To concentrate combat power, the defender may economize in some areas, retain a reserve, and maneuver to gain local superiority. Local counterattacks might be needed to maintain the integrity of the defense. Indirect fire can shift to critical points to concentrate destructive effects rapidly.
5-11. Flexibility is derived from sound preparation and effective C2. The defender must be agile enough to counter or avoid the attacker's blow and then strike back effectively. Flexibility results from a detailed mission analysis, an understanding of the unit's purpose, aggressive reconnaissance and security, and when applicable, organization in depth and retention or reconstitution of a reserve. Flexibility requires that the company commander "see the battlefield"―physically and through timely and accurate reports.  Supplementary positions on secondary avenue of approach may provide additional flexibility to the company commander. After proper analysis of the terrain and enemy situation, the commander can anticipate enemy actions and be prepared to act through the positioning of maneuver units or a reserve.
I included the paragraphs on type and purpose because when you are developing your defensive plan these will help you determine your overall scheme of the defense and assign purposes to your subordinate units.

The Basics

Mounted Formations. When mounted, the platoon uses the column, wedge, line, echelon, coil, and herringbone formations (based on METT-TC factors).

(1) Column Formation. The platoon uses the column when moving fast, when moving through restricted terrain on a specific route, or when it does not expect enemy contact. Each vehicle normally follows directly behind the vehicle in front of it. However, if the situation dictates, vehicles can disperse laterally to enhance security. This is sometimes referred to as a staggered column. Figure 3-1 shows this type of column movement. The column formation has the following characteristics, advantages, and limitations:
• Control—Easy.
• Fires:
• Front and rear—Limited.
• Flank—Excellent.
• Security—Limited, overall.

Figure 3-1

(2) Wedge Formation. When the enemy situation seems unclear or when contact might occur, leaders often use the wedge formation shown in Figure 3-2. Both the platoon leader and platoon sergeant stay in the center of the formation, with their wingmen located to the rear of and outside of them. The wedge has the following characteristics, advantages, and limitations:

• Control—Easy.
• Fires:
• Front—Excellent.
• Flanks—Good.
• Security—Good, to flanks.

Figure 3-2

(3) Line Formation. When assaulting a weakly defended objective, crossing open areas, or occupying a support-by-fire position, the platoon mainly uses the line formation (Figure 3-3). The platoon can use the line formation in the assault to maximize the platoon’s firepower and shock effect. The platoon normally uses the line formation when no terrain remains between it and the enemy, when the platoon has suppressed the enemy’s antitank weapons, or when the platoon is vulnerable to artillery fire and must move fast. The line formation has the following characteristics, advantages, and limitations:

• Control—Difficult.
• Fires:
• Front and rear—Excellent (maximum firepower).
• Flank—Poor.
• Security—Less than other formations due to lack of depth.

Figure 3-3

(4) Echelon Formation. When the company team wants to maintain security or observation of one flank, and when the platoon does not expect enemy contact, the platoon uses the echelon formation (Figure 3-4). The echelon formation covers the exposed flank of a larger force well, and has the following characteristics, advantages, and limitations:

• Control—Difficult.
• Fires:
• Front—Excellent.
• Flanks—Excellent for echelon sides.
• Security—Good, for echelon sides of higher formation.
Figure 3-4
The Coil and Herringbone are formations at a halt and will not be used in CMSF.
The term “movement techniques” does not refer to the movement of fixed formations—it refers to the fluctuating distances between soldiers, teams, and squads. These distances vary based on the factors of METT-TC. As the probability of enemy contact increases, the platoon leader adjusts the movement technique to provide greater security. For example, if an enemy update received from higher headquarters states that the enemy has moved much closer to the platoon than the platoon leader anticipated, he immediately switches the platoon from traveling overwatch to bounding overwatch.

a. Traveling (Mounted). The platoon uses Traveling when contact with the enemy is not likely and speed is desired.  The leader analyzes the latest information on the enemy and determines if contact with the enemy is unlikely.
b. Traveling Overwatch (Mounted). The platoon leader uses traveling overwatch when he thinks contact could occur.  He designates one of his subordinate elements to provide security forward of the main body. In some cases, the improved awareness might prompt the security element to increase these distances. Leaders track the movement of forward security elements. They get position updates to ensure the forward security element remains on azimuth and within range of supporting direct fires.
c. Bounding Overwatch (Mounted). When the platoon leader expects enemy contact, he uses bounding overwatch. He initiates it based on planning information received earlier about the enemy situation and on SITREPs received during movement. He bounds elements using successive or alternate bounds.
(1) Before bounding, the leader shows the bounding element the location of the next overwatch position. Ideally, the overwatch element keeps the bounding element in sight.
(2) Once the bounding element reaches its overwatch position, it signals “READY” by voice or visual means to the element that overwatched it’s bound. The platoon leader makes sure the bounding element stays within two-thirds of the weapons range of the overwatch element.

Be sure to watch the attached video labeled “Movement Techniques.”  It demonstrates all of the above with a Bradley Platoon.  You see the plt moving down a road using traveling.  As they near a potential danger area (a small town) the plt switches to Traveling Overwatch.  The lead vehicle is pushed out ahead of the rest of the platoon as a sort of vanguard.  The platoon stops short of the town and forms a line.  The decision is made to bypass the town to the right using bounding overwatch.  The platoon divides into two sections.  One watches the danger area while the other bounds to the right and takes up a position covering the town.  The other section then bounds past them.  The platoon would continue this movement technique until contact with the enemy is made or the PL feels it is ok to downgrade to T.O.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tutorial 2.0 - Rifle Company conducts night attack on urban area.

Situation:   US forces are attacking north to seize a major city.  Mechanized forces are spearheading the attack along a narrow front.   For this phase of the campaign it is decisive that US forces seize the bridges across a major river that lead into the city.  Intelligence on the area indicates the bridges are probably lightly defended but may be rigged for demolition.  The Corps commander decides on a bold operational maneuver: a turning maneuver utilizing airmobile forces.  Light infantry forces will air assault into the enemy’s rear, seizing key terrain (including the bridges), and force the enemy’s Main Line of Resistance (MLR) to collapse once their rear is threatened.  The mechanized units will then push forward and link up with the air assault force (sound familiar?).

Your Brigade is tasked with seizing pieces of key terrain that lead to the area with the bridges in order to(IOT) allow the rapid advance of relief forces.  Your battalion is tasked with seizing two small towns along Route Texas IOT allow the rapid advance of relief forces.    One company reinforced (the Battalion Decisive Operation) will seize a large town to the north of your objective.  One company (Supporting Effort 2) will secure the BN support area and the supporting artillery battery (105mm) to your east.  Your company (Supporting Effort 1) will seize the town of Al Jabal.  Your rifle company, reinforced with an AT platoon, will air assault into an LZ a few kilometers west of the Al Jabal at night with a few hours of darkness left to seize the town.  Lead elements of advancing forces are expected around 1000 hrs.

Al Jabal is a small crossroads town, consisting of paved streets, relatively widely dispersed buildings (some with two stories), and long straight avenues.  It is believed to be defended by an understrength motorized company, possibly recovering from an earlier battle.  Only a few BTRs have been spotted in the area, most in the vicinity of the School.  The town will not receive a lot of attention from air assets prior to the air assault in order to deceive the enemy to its level of importance.  There are four key structures within the town that will need to be seized: The Hotel, School, Police Station and Government Building.  Civilian presence south of the major river is very sparse due to refugee evacuations north. 

MissionA Company/1-502nd PIR seizes Objective Al Jabal NLT 230500JUL10 IOT allow the rapid advance of friendly forces.

Execution:  Advance from west to east toward OBJ Al Jabal.  Seize key structures in sequence.  Try to preserve all structures as much as possible but quick and efficient seizure of objective is the priority.  105mm fires are available.

Al Jabal (view from the North):

Friendly Forces (from the Southeast): One Rifle Company with three rifle platoons and a HQ element plus an AT platoon

Ok, so you just started the scenario, read the mission brief, looked at the map and your forces.  Now what?  If you are an actual Army officer you apply one of two planning processes: Troop Leading Procedures or the Military Decision Making Process.  TLPs are mostly for company and below, MDMP for battalion and above.  As a planning template they can go from ridiculously easy to mind crushingly complex.  It really all depends on the time available and the anal-retentiveness of your boss.   What I am aiming for here is a simplified process for CMSF players to pull out and apply anytime they find themselves in this situation in front of their computer.  I hope to keep it to a simple list of questions, so here it goes.

1.      What do I have to do?
2.      What do I know about the terrain?
a.      Key terrain
b.      Avenues of approach
c.      LOS
3.      What do I know about the enemy?
a.      Strength/capabilities
b.      Position
4.      What forces do I have at my disposal?
5.      At what point do I begin to win the battle (decisive point)?
6.      How can I most take advantage of the enemy’s weakness?
7.      Can I deceive the enemy to my intentions in any way?
8.      Where do I want to focus my combat power?
9.      What tasks do I need to accomplish?
10.   Which forces can be assigned to accomplish these tasks?

By the time you answer these ten basic (but not so simple) questions you will pretty much have formulated your plan.  All you need to do then is make some notes or draw some graphics to keep yourself on track and roll on out.  Here’s how:

Question 1:  What do I have to do?
This is simply a review and understanding of your mission statement.  I realize that a lot of CMSF mission statements may not be that well written but we have to take what we can get.  A mission statement should include who, what (Task), where, when, and why (Purpose).  For our purposes, who, where, and when are pretty obvious (you, the scenario map, and now).  So that leaves us with Task and Purpose.  And these are the really important pieces anyway. 
My commander can call me on the radio and tell me to go to such and such a grid by a certain time and I can do that.  But I am not going to know what to do when I get there without a Task.  The Task defines what I need to do; the Purpose will often add depth to the Task and give me a better understanding of my commander’s intent and how success is defined.  Worst case, given an emergency situation, a commander should be able to give a verbal order to a subordinate consisting of nothing more than a standard mission statement and the subordinate will have all the info they need to carry out the task.

Common tasks associated with offensive operations:
               Destroy                               Clear
               Isolate                                 Occupy
               Assault                                Secure
               Attack-by-fire                     Seize
               Breach                                Suppress

Common purposes associated with offensive operations:
               Enable                                 Open                                   Allow
               Deceive                               Envelop                               Create
               Deny                                    Cause                                  Support
               Prevent                                Protect

Our mission statement for this tutorial:  A Company/1-502nd PIR seizes Objective Al Jabal NLT 230500JUL10 IOT allow the rapid advance of friendly forces.

Our Task: Seize
Our Purpose: allow rapid advance of friendly forces.

Seize is usually defined as taking and holding ground that is currently occupied by the enemy.  Our purpose indicates we need to ensure that the main route through the town is free of enemy fire and obstructions.   Objective Al Jabal encompasses the entire town so that makes defining success rather easy.  But if the town itself was larger than it would be more difficult to define.  We would have to make a determination of what parts of the town we needed to seize/secure IOT prevent the enemy from interdicting our relief forces.  That is an example of how closely the task and purpose can be interrelated.  That is also a good example of what the Army calls “Implied Tasks” but I will get into those in another tutorial.

So our answer to Question 1: attack and seize the town of Al Jabal (as defined by the scenario objectives) by game’s end.  That’s pretty easy to understand and straight forward.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tutorial 2.1 - Rifle Company conducts night attack on urban area(cont).

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.