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Maneuver warfare: Hell on wheels allies

 
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Maneuver warfare: Hell on wheels allies - 6/6/2010 6:06:54 PM   
henri51


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This AAR will illustrate the use of maneuver warfare to achieve victory in the Scenario “Counterattack: Hell on wheels”, that depicts the attempt by a division-sized armored group to break through German defenses to link up with Patton in the South. The Allied units are rather mixed up in this AG, which consists of four task forces A, B, C and D.

This game was played before I knew the German dispositions from Chad's excellent AAR in another thread.

Maneuver warfare consists of achieving the objectives by neutralizing the enemy’s ability to fight, as opposed to outright destroying him by concentration of force as proposed by Clauzewitz. One important aspect of maneuver warfare is to get inside the enemy’s so-called Boyd cycle, which means that the enemy cannot react fast enough to counter our actions.

So first let us look at the map. The ultimate objective is to exit enough units from the bottom right corner of the map, but we can only do that if we can get through the enemy who is determined to stop us.


If you are like me, when you first look at the map you have no idea where to begin making a plan, so the Clauzewitzian temptation is to look at the nearest enemy grouping and to start by launching an attack in that direction. Here there are three paths to the enemy, and three objectives: Amenimes on the right, Beffe on the left and Hill 400 in the center between them. Since we know that the German forces have the mission to stop our linking with Patton, it is probable that we are equal in strength or stronger than they are, so there is little risk of a devastating enemy counterattack if our early initiatives fail. So a reasoable plan could be to launch attacks along the three objectives, with the idea of adjusting our attack depending on how it works out. But we shall not do that. For an excellent AAR on how to do that, read the AAR by Chad in a nearby thread.

What we shall do is work out a plan starting from the end: the main objective is to exit some units at the bottom right corner of the map, so how do we get there? We see from the map that there are only two ways to get there: along the river trough Amomines and Dochamps, and down through the center through either Magoster or Amonimes, then through Devantave and Laidprangeleux. So it becomes clear that our route will be either Amonimes or Magoster, then Devantave-Laidprangeleux or Amonimes-Dochamps. If possible we should control both routes, since it gives us extra degrees of freedom (not to mention extra objectives). It is also possible to detour through Beffe, but this is undesirable because it must go through too many enemy concentrations.

Since this is a 3+ day scenario, we should scout out the enemy before we decide on where to commit, based on the principle that if you don’t know where you are going, you are unlikely to get there. Now as Chad has pointed out in his exellent AAR, Hill 400 in the center is an excellent German position to cover both approaches to Beffe on the left and to Amonimes on the right (here right and left refer to the map). Our plan should take this into account. We do not know where most of the enemy are, and whether or not they have reinforcements, so we have to take this into account too.

If I were the German commander, I would carry out a flexible defense along the two routes I have described above, but the Germans may have other ideas and other orders, so I cannot presume that.





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RE: Maneuver warfare: Hell on wheels allies - 6/6/2010 6:11:13 PM   
henri51


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So what I will do is to launch probing attacks along both the right and the left to determine the enemy strengths there. I will also launch a smaller probe on Hill 400 in order to keep the bushwackers there busy, and if they have only a couple of units there, perhaps to break through. A probe ensures that my units will not take heavy casualties if the enemy defenders are stronger than anticipated.

So Task Force A, a reinforced-battalion-sized force consisting of three armored companies and three infantry companies along with support units will probe towards Beffe on the left, and Task Force B, consisting of an armored battalion and an infantry battalion along with some support units will probe toward Amomines on the right (of the map). I will probe Hill 400 with a weaker force consisting of battalion 2.335 consisting of one armor company, two infantry companies, a mortar platoon and an anti-tank platoon. Two heavy artillery units are detached under my direct orders, and two remain under AI command. My reserve consists of Battalion 1.66, consisting of four armor companies and one infantry company, and Task Force D HQ, consisting of 3 armor companies and 2 infantry companies. I expect to engage at least one of the two reserve battalions when I am fairly sure of the enemy dispositions.

By 0930 the probes are well under way, and it is fairly clear that the strongest enemy force on the German front line is at Beffe, and that the weakest is at Amonimes. This is surprising, because Beffe is the least important of the objectives, so I can only assume that the Germans expected an assault on Amonimes which they could strike on the flank with the forces from Beffe and on Hill 400. An Allied assault on Amonimes with most of the US forces would easily break through, opening the riverside road South, and the temptation would be strong to continue down the road, but the Allies could be in for a rude surprise when the flank attack from the West hit Amonimes, or even worse, if a strong German thrust up the road from Beffe threatened the US rear units. These two threats could hand the initiative to the Germans, letting them get inside the Allied reaction loop and turning the US attack into chaos.

Now however it becomes clear on how I can throw the German Boyd loop into chaos: I release my two reserve battalions for an all-out assault on Amonimes, with the intention of swinging them West for an attack on Hill 400, while my probing elements at Beffe and Hill 400 continue to probe, thus ensuring that the enemy will not have time to react to my actions.

The enemy on Hill 400 are 4 units of mechanized infantry, but they are weak on anti-tank weapons, and my balanced force of infantry and armor probing them soon forces them to seek cover in the woods on top of the hill. When hit on the flank by my incoming two reserve battalions, they will either disintegrate or retreat towards the Beffe defenders, who are unable to disengage from my powerful probing Task Force A. Note that if I had noticed earlier that the defenders of Hill 400 were so weak, I could have sent my reserves up the hill instead of through Amonimes, but going through Amonimes has the advantage of steamrolling the forces there with an overwhelming force, thus reducing their resistance for a later push down the river bank.





REd lines show lines of maneuver and green lines show the paths that lead to the exit objective.Orange circles are the reserves.

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RE: Maneuver warfare: Hell on wheels allies - 6/6/2010 6:18:37 PM   
OlegHasky

 

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Did you actually used the Rcn Bn (that is just beging to be used?) or did you preformed Rcn ith your inf..
Chad went straight "on the roll" as in good Yank fashion.
But this Rcn Bn is just beging.. just beging.. "Sooner or later - use me!" "Use me to cut in deep somewhere"

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RE: Maneuver warfare: Hell on wheels allies - 6/6/2010 8:07:48 PM   
henri51


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quote:

ORIGINAL: OlegHasky

Did you actually used the Rcn Bn (that is just beging to be used?) or did you preformed Rcn ith your inf..
Chad went straight "on the roll" as in good Yank fashion.
But this Rcn Bn is just beging.. just beging.. "Sooner or later - use me!" "Use me to cut in deep somewhere"


oops, I am afraid not, I used it as one of the reserves...

Henri


< Message edited by henri51 -- 6/6/2010 8:09:40 PM >

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RE: Maneuver warfare: Hell on wheels allies - 6/8/2010 10:29:31 PM   
henri51


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By 1300 I have gone through the enemy at Amonimes “like crap through a goose”, to quote Patton, and have pushed backthe defenders from Hill 400, who are now facing three Allied battalions, at least one of whom has an open road to Magoster and the German flank around Beffe.

So far I have achieved much without having to fight hard: three probes and a runaround by my reserves have essentially unhinged the German defence, crippled the enemy at Amonimes, neutralized the enemy around Hill 400, and left the largest enemy force at Beffe hanging and unable to react, thus accomplishing to some extent Sun Tzu’s dictum of “ Winning the battle without fighting is the highest form of the Art of War”.

But the battle is not yet over. I have a little less than 2 days left to open the road to the exit point on the lower right corner of the map, and my units are pretty tired, as are the Germans. My reserves are a bit fresher,so I push them towards Devantave, hoping to capture it before nightfall, while the remainder of my forces hold their objectives and keep harrassing the Germans. I could have sent one of the reserve units into the German flank at Beffe, but Beffe has now become irrelevant to the battle, except for using it to keep a sizeable German force away from my objectives. Task Force A is involved in some heavy city fighting in Beffe, but they are in no danger, and when all danger of German forces counterattacking up the left side of the map into my rear areas has passed, I will withdraw them to the objective at Magoster to rest.

Now it is time to replan. When they are rested, I will send some units down the road along the river to see what kind of resistance is there. In the morning my main objectives will be Devantave and Laidprangeleux, the last two objectives before the exit location. If I were the Germans, I would haveleft some forces in Laidprangeleux and Dochamps to stop or delay Allied units trying to exit the map.






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RE: Maneuver warfare: Hell on wheels allies - 6/8/2010 10:44:19 PM   
henri51


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By morning of Day 2, some of my units are still tired from fighting during the night and resting outdoors in the snow, especially those in Beffe, who are nearing the breaking point of fatigue. They have done sterling service by holding back the Germans there, and soon I will have to withdraw them to Magoster. It is snowing all the time and there are no airstrikes, but so far we are doing OK without any air strikes.

Task Force D HQ, one of my 2 original reserve units, is tasked with assaulting and holding Devantave, while the other former reserve joins the defenders on Hill 400 fighting the enemy there and guarding against an attack to the East by the Beffe units. My reserve is now the 3.335 Battalion at Amonimes, which will soon be replaced in that role by TFB HQ and a couple of support units while 3.335 probes down the road toward Dochamps. The one or two German units near Amonimes are badly beaten up, and are on the path of 3.335, who will sweep them easily out of the way, so there is no serious threat to TFB HQ on Amonimes. One of the units on Hill 400 could serve as a reserve if needed, but unless there is a significant German force that I haven’t seen yet, there is no more need of a reserve, as the only German units still capable of posing a significant threat are bottled up in Beffe, and they are just as fatigued as my own units there.

By 1500 I have taken Devantave, and 3.335 has begun its move down the river line and has brushed away the enemy units near Amonimes.The enemy forces around Devantave has an estimated anti-personnnel strength of about 200 and an anti-armor strangth of around 150, whereas our anti-personnel strength is 210 and our anti-armor is 305. But we have still stronger forces behind us on Hill 400 ready to help, whereas the enemy certainly have fewer.

By 1800 it has been dark for a while, and the snow, cold and fatigue have forced everyone to take a rest. The plan for Day 3 is simple: Batalion 3.335 will continue down the river road to Dechamps and open the road there if necessary. The forces at Devantave will force thier way to Laidprangeleux with the aid of the forces on Hill 400 if necessary and continue down to the exit point to make sure that the road is open.Task force A in Beffe will retreat to the objective at Mogoster, and from there will prevent any incursion by the Germans in Beffe.





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RE: Maneuver warfare: Hell on wheels allies - 5/27/2011 8:24:14 AM   
Skyhigh

 

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< Message edited by Skyhigh -- 5/27/2011 8:25:53 AM >

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