This is another synthesis/rehash post where I pull some previous ideas together which were previously scattered about ...
Topic: Time, Transits, MOVE/ATTACK
Given1: You or the enemy wants to get from Point A to Point B which are some distance apart.
Given2: There are two ways to make the transit. First, MOVE - a single move order from Point A to Point B. Or second, ATTACK - multiple attack orders between Point A to Point B.
Given3: The player is cast in either the role of the advancing commander or the delaying commander.
I would like to discuss some of the considerations associated with the above circumstances. Although the presentation sounds trivially simple, how you handle this will have a key impact on the element of time, fatigue, and casualties. And, of course, those items will likely determine who is the victor in a particular struggle.
Now, if there is no enemy presence between Point A and Point B, then a single MOVE command is the fastest way to make the transit. Much faster than multiple ATTACK commands (assuming that there is no enemy). With multiple ATTACK, the will be multiple order delays, time spent organizing the ATTACK at the FUP, time spent assaulting over slower terrain than might otherwise be used, and time spent in the final securing stage. Finally, ATTACK incurs a higher level of fatigue both due to the activity and movement through less than optimal terrain.
Of course, it could well be the case that the enemy is present at one or more locations between Point A and Point B. Does that mean MOVE would then be the wrong choice? Not necessarily. If the enemy presence is quite weak relative to transit force; if the enemy is on the move or only deployed; if the enemy is caught in open terrain; if the transit force can call upon arty support, then MOVE might still prove to provide the fastest transit from Point A to Point B. The force in transit will just have to shoot it out with the enemy and keep moving.
On the other hand, the enemy could well be dug-in or entrenched in strength in a village on a key road juncture and significant arty to call-in. In which case, the transit force using a MOVE command is not going to have any chance of shooting their way through the blocking position. Most likely the transit force will be pretty badly roughed up and suffer significant casualties. The only was that such situation could be dealt with is through a determined ATTACK and not MOVE.
In summary: MOVE transits much faster than multiple ATTACK especially against weak opposition. ATTACK is the only option against a well considered blocking action.
So, what are the implications to you the player?
*** You the player in the advancing role (transiting force) ***
Ideally, you prefer to use MOVE, but it could turn out to be a big folly. What to do? Get a fast recon unit to take the desired route in advance of the main force (generally in daylight). A number of things can happen:
(1) The route comes up clear, and you can order a MOVE.
(2) The enemy has weak presence and your recon fights their way by. Well, certainly a stronger force can repeat that, and you can order a MOVE.
(3) The enemy has a strong presence and you recon is badly bloodied. Well, you will have to ATTACK and now you know exactly where. MOVE will not work and you will avoid a costly folly.
(4) Recon doesn't see the enemy or get hit by direct fire, but is heavily bombarded. This means the enemy has the route under observation and substantial arty resources. This is a tough call. Calling for an ATTACK may not be very useful. Attack who/where? You could order a MOVE at night, since the enemy is unlikely to see you if they weren't directly blocking the route. Or explore another route to where you need to be.
NOTE: There is one important case where recon and MOVE may be the wrong choice due to high risk. This is the case where you have a primed bridge ahead of you. In such case, even without any knowledge of the enemy being present, you may want to order an ATTACK if the bridge is critical to your mission rather than risk it.
*** You the player in the delaying role (opposing the transiting force) ***
In general, the AI does not conduct recon. However, the scenario may well have multiple objectives and therefore the AI may have decomposed its command into a number of task forces. Given a limited set of possible routes, it is quite possible that a small fast force heading towards a distant objective may well make the OPFOR AI aware of your force along a key route of transit. And a much heavier force also planning to make the transit may be retasked to perform an ATTACK on your position(s). Effectively, some serendipitous recon. So, although the AI doesn't perform recon, one cannot rule out this case.
Now, for you in the delaying role, there are two main ways you can approach your mission.
(1) You can mount a strong determined defense. You might do this if you have sufficient resources and time and the terrain is conducive. Of course, bridges are always primed candidates. Woods are also good candidates when dealing with a motorized enemy. Towns can also be good. The OPFOR AI may run into your position while under a MOVE order, but it will be forced to ATTACK in order dislodge you. A position such as described can hold out for an extended period of time; perhaps even a couple of days under the best circumstances.
(2) You can look to mount sufficient resistance such that the enemy cannot simply MOVE past your position. The enemy will be forced to issues new orders to ATTACK. In such a situation you will be easily swept aside. You goal is not really blocking, but eating up time and tiring the enemy. In every battle time is just as much a resource as vehicles, men, fuel, and ammo. Even if the enemy should deem that they can MOVE past your position, it will still cost some degree of time since the force previously in road column formation will deploy for greater security. Their rate of travel will slow considerably.
Do this a two or three places along a long route and you can easily cost the enemy considerable time to deal with your minor actions. Additionally, when they get where they are finally going, they are going to arrive disorganized and fatigued. So, if their mission was to deploy for a major attack on a key objective at the end of their transit, then they will be off to a bad start when they arrive.
(3) Finally, I toss in here one of my personal favorites. There must be a military term for this, but due to my ignorance I will just call it the "shadow defense". Similar to #1, find yourself a strong point to hold the enemy. Back it up with plenty of arty. The idea is that the enemy encounter it during the day time and possible even make a strong attack and be repulsed. You hold this position until night fall letting the enemy organize a strong attack against the position. As soon as it gets dark, you pull out as quickly as possible.
If things work properly, the enemy ends up eating time making a major attack on an empty strong point. The enemy still suffers a significant loss of time and increased fatigue and you come away having accomplished that with very minimal casualties. And, of course, you can play the same game again tomorrow 10km up the road.
Okay, it's back to the war for me.
Never more! (I've had enough. Sliterine has raised mediocrity to an art form!)