From: Living in the fair city of Melbourne, Australia
Another different matter, which is related to the discussion in hand, is the friendly AI and what's the "recommended" level of meddling.
This is a lot a matter of doctrine, and doctrine at the higher operational level cannot be easily modeled. Most importantly (in my opinion) is that the higher you're in the command chain, the more info the commander has about global conditions. For instance, a Bn commander might or not be aware that there is another Bn ready to back him up, and that's indeed a factor consider when making a decision about whether to hold fast or to delay the enemy while falling back to more defensively ground or nearby friendly troops concentrations.
And also, the actual significance of a particular local situation - say, an infantry Coy receiving the full brunt of a infantry Bn with tank support attack - is also context dependent since that Coy being overrun might be a critical thing or not at the Division level. The limited info available to commanders as one goes down the command chain is indeed a factor to consider when deciding whether or not to give a free reign to a Bn CO over Bn assets or intervening by issuing more definite orders to formations' assets.
I guess that some of you might be thinking that in some armies, such as the German or US Army, the level of intervention higher command echelons in the decisions made by lower level commanders should be very few (that's the celebrated notion of aufstragstaktik or "mission oriented command"). In the many years I've spent reading about the conduct of operations in World War 2 I have come to some realizations:
* A military organization can have a book with the sentence "You Shalt Not Meddle In Your Bn Commanders Business" turning up every now and then, yet at the same time, be composed by individuals with widely differing abilities and information. My impression of the style of command of the most successful leaders in WW2 is that whenever they knew they knew better than their subordinates, or whenever they distrusted their subordinates abilities, they didn't shy away from intervening and issuing more precise and detailed orders.
* Almost all major combatants had in their doctrines the notion of aufstragstaktik in one way or another. Even the Red Army.
I haven't read so much accounts about the German conduct of command during actual operations (and I've little interest in field manuals in themselves), but mostly the US Army Digital Library titles. These are very nice narratives, yet in order to gain insight into the plan formulation and execution (not the outcome of the latter) one needs to look into units War Diaries.
The military I have been most interested in and I've been able to find more material about is the Red Army. In the past two years or so I have been working through many accounts of the conduct of operations by the Red Army from 1941 well into 1945. Most recently, about the "battle" of Smolensk, covering all the way from late June to late September, in Glantz's "Barbarossa Derailed" volumes. It's not an easy read, as many chapters consist basically of translations of Army and Front command orders and scale-less situation maps. Yet I can get some interesting insight.
One interesting subtle fact is that one can see that the style and the content of the missions issued varies a lot. The biggest problem for Timoshenko (in my opinion) was that he had to deal with a substantial amount of commanders which were wearing boots two or three sizes bigger than they should. He was well aware of that, and redacted his orders accordingly.
So you can find a Front (Army Group) level commander like Timoshenko, issuing specific orders along the lines of telling 53rd Rifle Division CO to detach two battalions and some AT guns to cover one particular crossing. But you can also find more general orders, such as those issued to Konev and Rokossovsky. The only logical explanation for this difference in how orders were redacted is that Timoshenko didn't trust much or at all the abilities of 53rd Rifle Division Army Commander, yet was more comfortable with trusting Konev and Rokossovsky to do a decent job.
You can also see when this meddling becomes a negative influence. Usually and most notoriously, when Timoshenko has no idea of German units whereabouts and actions, or when he has incomplete information on his units status and level of equipment and supplies, and sends his units (unknowingly) after impossibly difficult missions.
Same thing at the Army level.
One especially interesting example is that of Konev, commanding 19th Army in early August. At this phase of the battle, the Red Army had managed to reform east of Smolensk and launched quite massive counterstrokes (yet in a patheticly disjointed manner) against Dukhovschina and Yeln'ya (that is, they were actually trying to do a double envelopment over Smolensk).
Konev's Army was tasked with the main advance against Dukhovschina (northeast of Smolensk), and is interesting to follow how he issued missions to his Division commanders as the days passed. You can see him detaching a Tank Regiment from a Tank Division and attaching it to one of his right flank Rifle Divisions (and who playing Command Ops hasn't been doing this more or less regularly, at a smaller scale). You can see him telling explicitly to another Rifle Division commander where he should be placing his AT batteries (same as with assigning armored assets), or where to send a Rifle Bn. But he doesn't do that in a consistent way: some division commanders get this kind of specific orders, others get much more free form instructions such as defend the line between Z-Town and S-Town, without no mention of where to put his artillery.
The logical conclusion (for me) is that this pattern was common amongst all combatants. The thing is that in the Red Army, because of human factors (the lack of experienced commanders or commanders with qualifications to do their job), this was just more apparent, frequent and more likely to happen between highly separated levels of command.
This is reflected pretty neatly in Command Ops - and I love this game because of that. Very much like these famous people I'm citing, I like finding myself having to assess whether I can trust the Bn and Rgt commanders judgement, skills and information at hand to be enough for accomplish the job or not.
This is a highly situation-dependent thing and a beautiful learning process (for me): one learns the skills as he interacts with the Command Ops engine, and I'm happy to recognize when I should have detached an AT battery and told it to deploy in some nearby heights overlooking a Bn line of advance and I didn't (or the reverse, when I shouldn't have done that).
EDIT: Improved clarity at some parts.
< Message edited by Bletchley_Geek -- 3/19/2013 2:43:57 AM >