Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tutorial 5.0 Mech Company Team in the Defense

For this particular game I used "UK Recipe for Disaster."  I replaced the British Warrior Company with a US Bradley Company, the Challenger Platoon with an Abrams Platoon, along with like US supporting arty and two flights of F-16s.  I then started the game and began my mission analysis/planning (answering my ten questions).

1. What do I have to do?  Mission: “Break the enemy’s attack through delay and use of artillery.”  Commander’s Intent: “Destroy as much of the enemy as possible.”  “Break” is not a task I am familiar with.  “Delay” isn’t either but it fits with the doctrinal task of Disrupt.

FM 3-90 Tactics:
Disrupt is a tactical mission task in which a commander integrates direct and indirect fires, terrain, and obstacles to upset an enemy's formation or tempo, interrupt his timetable, or cause his forces to commit prematurely or attack in a piecemeal fashion.

However, “Break” and “Destroy” are the commander’s key terms for the assigned Task.  They could fit into either of the doctrinal tasks of Defeat or Destroy.

FM 3-90 Tactics:
Defeat is a tactical mission task that occurs when an enemy force has temporarily or permanently lost the physical means or the will to fight. The defeated force's commander is unwilling or unable to pursue his adopted course of action, thereby yielding to the friendly commander's will and can no longer interfere to a significant degree with the actions of friendly forces.

Destroy is a tactical mission task that physically renders an enemy force combat-ineffective until it is reconstituted. Alternatively, to destroy a combat system is to damage it so badly that it cannot perform any function or be restored to a usable condition without being entirely rebuilt. 

Destroy is most commonly used when the mission planner has a specific enemy element or formation they want eliminated or significantly attrited.  For example, “Destroy 4 tanks of leading tank company” or “Destroy leading company of attacking Motorized Rifle Regiment.”  Since our S2 is once again on his butt and has failed to give us even the slightest hint to how strong a formation we are facing, we will go with Defeat, since it is vague enough to fit.

Now, how does this affect game play?  It really doesn’t since the game is set up for the victory conditions to be terrain oriented (the simple green box that everyone has come to expect).  From a tactical perspective this is definitely NOT how to fight a defense.  Defenses should be oriented on the enemy, not terrain.  Terrain plays a huge role of course, because where a commander decides to fight his defense will often be very decisive.  But his ultimate goal is to defeat the enemy’s attack, not seize or hold terrain.  So the tasks (or victory conditions) should reflect this.  The scenario designer should determine what level of attrition the attacker could sustain to continue the attack past the defending unit.  Once that casualty rate is achieved the defender wins the scenario.  If the designer decides the attacker’s tank assets would be critical to success then he can award additional points for those vehicles.  But to make a defense terrain oriented is incorrect.  The attacker can certainly have a terrain victory condition, as most offensive tasks are terrain oriented as opposed to enemy focused.

2. What do I know about the terrain?
           a. Key Terrain
           b. Avenues of approach
           c. LOS

Based on my terrain analysis I draw a sketch on a piece of paper (redrawn here with MSPaint):

The pieces of Key Terrain are based on the fact that those hills provide the best points of observation/direct fires into my defensive line.  This makes them key pieces of terrain for me because I will want to deny the use of them to the enemy.

AOA 1 and AOA 2 use the lower hills for cover and then split off just in front of the objective area.  AOA 3 takes the upper route into the objective area.  1 and 2 provide the best covered route but the key take away is that the terrain tends to funnel all movement into a neat box just in front of the objective.
LOS presents a bigger problem after a close look at the ground.  Mainly that the buildings and the protective features in the area (trenches) are in a reverse slope position.  Meaning they can’t see more than 100 meters max to their front.  In an anti-armor fight you want to engage and destroy the enemy vehicles at the max range of your anti-armor weapons (usually ATGMs) because they almost always out range tank main gun capabilities.  That, and a 3 man crew is a lot harder to hit at 2000m than a 70 ton tank is.  In an infantry fight, reverse slope is good, because it means the enemy can’t bring direct supporting fire onto your position until he is very close, protecting your force until the last possible instant.
I, therefore, will have to separate my ATGMs from my main infantry force so that they can engage at max range.  The Spud Farm will become an infantry strongpoint and my armor will play a key role in defeating the enemy’s armor assets before they crest the ridgeline giving them direct fire ability into the objective area.
 3. What do I know about the enemy?  Practically nothing.  Armored force with mounted ATGM assets.  I can expect him to use the identified key terrain to establish firing positions and for observing indirect fires.  He may or may not use the KT as cover for his movement but I will plan for him using it as it’s the most dangerous for me.  I will expect a tank and APC mix with the infantry assets driving hard for the Spud Farm.

4. What forces do I have at my disposal?  Bradley Company with three platoons (12 Bradleys, 9 rifle squads, 9 Javelin Teams).  Tank platoon as counterattack force within 20 minutes.  Arty and light air support.

5. At what point do I begin to win the battle (decisive point)?  This is very hard to answer because I have no idea how large the enemy force is, how long I have to defend for, or what strength I need to possess at mission completion.  Normally, based on the size/type of the enemy force expected, I could establish my decisive point as the destruction of a certain number or type of enemy vehicles.

For this mission I will make possession of the Spud Farm my Decisive Point.  This is a piece of terrain and as I have stated, not the best focus of a defense but we are playing a game.  And the game says I win if I retain control of the Spud Farm.
6. How can I most take advantage of the enemy's weakness?  Once again, not enough information. 

7. Can I deceive the enemy to my intentions in any way?  Given my own limited assets I do not believe I can achieve a substantial, beneficial deception this mission.

8. Where do I want to focus my combat power?  Given the terrain, I believe I can identify at least one Engagement Area(EA) that will help focus and control my fires.  Fires, of course, can be directed in other areas, but my defense will be focused on this EA.  If I were in possession of any mines or other obstacles I would use these to funnel enemy forces into this box.  I will attempt to use my arty fires to influence the enemy to use this route by leaving it clear of fires (at least initially).

9. What tasks do I need to accomplish?  As I stated before I will establish a Strongpoint in the Spud Farm.  On each flank I will establish a Battle Position (BP1 left of strongpoint, BP2 to the right) made up of Bradleys and Javelin Teams.  I will push an OP forward that can observe enemy forces while the rest of my force remains masked by terrain.

10. Which forces can be assigned to accomplish these tasks?
            OP: XO team
Air/Arty: Disrupt enemy forces IOT prevent their concentration on the Decisive Operation (DO)
            1 Bradley Platoon: Establish BP1 and Destroy enemy forces entering EA1 IOT prevent enemy massing forces against DO.
            1 Bradley Platoon: Establish BP2 and Destroy enemy forces entering EA1 IOT prevent enemy massing forces against DO.
            1 Bradley Platoon and dismounts: (Decisive Operation) Establish Strongpoint and Retain control of Spud Farm IOT prevent enemy massing forces against Battalion DO.
            Tank Platoon: Occupy Attack by Fire position Alpha and Destroy enemy forces in EA1 IOT prevent enemy massing forces against DO.

Notice in my task and purpose lay down how all the tasks and purposes support (or are "nested") with the decisive operation (the Decisive Point task).  This ensures Unity of Effort and Mass as well as a few other Principles of War.  The exception is the 3rd Bradley platoon which is essentially accomplishing the task from higher (prevent enemy massing against another unit).

My hasty plan as drawn on my planning sheet:

Video of attack is on my YouTube page: