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Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 1:03:32 PM   
Mark Florio

 

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I really love this game. I have had a passion for war gaming since I was stationed in FRG from 88-90 as part of 2BDE, 3ID. I was a platoon leader and a battalion staff officer in an armor battalion (3/63AR) in that period. My comments on the game so far are positive. Here are my thoughts:
1). The game mechanics and how the weapons are modeled is excellent. But would love to see more independent movement of troops when they come under fire. Too often I see troops in the open not using smoke and not maneuvering well enough? They should break contact when hit but in this game they dont seem to do that as much?
2). The artillery looks too much like direct fire animations... Howitzers shells came in usually at steep angles. You should allow for more mission types to include Rocket munitions and time to target missions. The explosion animations could be boosted a bit... a 155mm shell will create a lot of smoke and debris upon impact.
3). It would be nice to know the effects of night vision. The US forces operated commonly at night and our training included thermal vision gunnery under all weather conditions. The soviets had very little if any night fighting capabilities by the way. The exception was their recon and rotary wing.
4). AI behavior. The soviet doctrine at the time was pretty rigid. Not every tank had radios and those that did were basically following a scripted attack. Jr leaders had very little tactical flexibility. The result was often, at least in their training an aggressive push by increasingly more powerful forces once the vanguard found a weakpoint. But their ability to react mid battle was always predicted to be limited.
5). AI behavior for NATO: I havent played yet against the NATO troops but the strategy should be a mobile defense with local counter attacks by Mech forces. Lots of air power and artillery to slow the wave until the REFORGER forces mobilized.
6). I dont see NBC modeled in AB yet or might not have seen it yet?
7) would like to see rotary wing have more independence. They tend to stay in one spot instead of hopping around behind tree lines and ridgelines?
8) resupply. Mech forces usually did a full top off before action but it wouldnt be unusual for ammo and fuel to be pushed forward.Refueling an Abrams took about 5 minutes. Reloading took about 2 minutes a round if the crew hustled and was not in MOPP.
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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 1:32:32 PM   
kevinkins


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Welcome Mark. All your points are spot on. We all hope AB is a success so the developers gain the resources to improve based on suggestions like yours.

Kevin

_____________________________

“The study of history lies at the foundation of all sound military conclusions and practice.”
― Alfred Thayer Mahan


(in reply to Mark Florio)
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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 1:39:09 PM   
jnpoint


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Great observations - I especially would like the possibility to resupply...

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 2:11:58 PM   
Blond_Knight


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I feel like resupply and NBC modeling are outside the scope of this game. There's a thread about resupply but lets talk about NBC for a second.
Its highly likely that the Soviets would have utilized NBC warfare in some form to breakthrough or maintain the tempo of their attack. But remember that the main effect of that, for properly equipped soldiers, is increased fatigue and not high casualties.
A huge psychological impact ofcourse, and very tiring running around in MOPP4, but outside the scope of this game.

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 2:15:11 PM   
CapnDarwin


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Mark, for #8, how far back from the shooting/battle line was this resupply and how much fuel and ammo are we talking? We have three gentlemen who served back in the day on our development team and have discussed battlefield resupply. It was stated that units low on ammo in a platoon, if they where out of the shooting, would transfer fuel and ammo around to even out the loadouts. In absence of being in a position to receive logistical support, I can see that kind of "resupply" going on given the map footprint in AB.

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 2:35:06 PM   
gbem

 

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i honestly dont think resupply is beyond the scope of this game... although resupply for tanks can occur in 30 minutes to an hour via a dedicated supply... this is doable within the confines of large battles in AB which can last as long as 4 hours or more... also infantry and artillery especially foot artillery should be readily resuppliable via trucks apcs IFVs etc....

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 2:51:06 PM   
76mm


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I also served as an armor officer in Europe doing this period and agree with what the OP says about platoon cross-leveling. For resupply from the supply section, I would think it would take 30-60 minutes, which would seem to be within the scope of some of the larger battles (from what I've read--I don't have the game).

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 2:56:48 PM   
Adam Rinkleff

 

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Resupply can definitely be setup. I think there should be an adjustable timer (one hour, two hours, five hours?), and then a modifier that can be applied by deploying supply trucks with an area of effect radius. Same goes for water/food/repairs. It'll be the world's most complete wargame, if it becomes worth investing in that fancy new mobile field kitchen.

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 3:01:10 PM   
Adam Rinkleff

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Blond_Knight
NBC


I think NBC could be modded. Troops wearing protective equipment would simply move more slowly, and shoot less accurately with impaired line of sight perception. The developers could add a chemical gas shell, which only affects troops that lack gas mask equipment. Although from a gameplay perspective, I'm not sure much would come of a battle where one side is well equipped and the other is not. More likely both sides would be equipped, and the main difference would be that infantry are operating with a lot more fatigue. Or conversely, neither side is well equipped, in which case you could just give shells a large radius of effect and watch entire companies die with almost nobody left alive.

Since vehicles can get tracked in rough terrain, there is probably a way to mod it so that every unit has a percentage chance to fail in random locations. So an infantry platoon walking across an empty field might wind up with a casualty because they tripped over something and tore a hole in their suit.

< Message edited by Adam Rinkleff -- 11/20/2018 3:05:06 PM >

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 3:29:47 PM   
kevinkins


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Back in the day when reading about Fort Irwin exercises in the 80's, the dread of Blue was for the OPFOR to break through the defense and get to the supply trains. Those trains were close enough to the front line i.e. within tactical range/time frame (4-8 hrs) during those exercises. Resupply is within the scope of longer AB battles. Supply areas might be something to think about. Infantry fighting deep in a city is another matter. This is one of those nice to have things.

Kevin



_____________________________

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― Alfred Thayer Mahan


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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 7:41:28 PM   
Sorrow_Knight

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mark Florio

4). Not every tank had radios and those that did were basically following a scripted attack. Jr leaders had very little tactical flexibility. The result was often, at least in their training an aggressive push by increasingly more powerful forces once the vanguard found a weakpoint. But their ability to react mid battle was always predicted to be limited.


And who did say that heresy to you? Since at least T-55 ALL Soviet tanks has radio. And yours vision of Soviet doctrine and tactics is... very far from reality.

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 7:52:10 PM   
Blond_Knight


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Sorrow_Knight

And who did say that heresy to you? Since at least T-55 ALL Soviet tanks has radio. And yours vision of Soviet doctrine and tactics is... very far from reality.


That was what we were taught also, few radios at the company level and below, and very rigid battle drill.

Kevinkin, I was at Irwin in '88 and we did a lot of breaking through and over-running. But we knew the terrain very well and there weren't but so many ways to attack or defend in the field.
Although I still have nightmares about working on those damn Sheridans.

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 7:58:14 PM   
76mm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Blond_Knight
That was what we were taught also, few radios at the company level and below, and very rigid battle drill.

That is not what I was taught, or at least what I read. Maybe your instructors were thinking of WWII...

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 8:05:15 PM   
gbem

 

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hes right about 1 thing... soviet doctrine isnt designed to function with too much initiative in contrast to western doctrine... mobile defense was a far more "fluid" doctrine over the much more rigid and strategically focused deep battle... and he got the vanguard forces finding a weakspot and sending the main body part right... that was soviet doctrine during both ww2 and the cold war... however it must be noted that the main force doesnt attack at a single weakspot however penetrates the enemy defense through multiple weakspots... going through a single weakspot is actually german doctrine during ww2... schwerepunkt...

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/20/2018 10:16:35 PM   
Blond_Knight


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quote:

ORIGINAL: 76mm

quote:

ORIGINAL: Blond_Knight
That was what we were taught also, few radios at the company level and below, and very rigid battle drill.

That is not what I was taught, or at least what I read. Maybe your instructors were thinking of WWII...



At Irwin they tried to make the training as realistic as possible to the extent that our tanks(OPFOR) each carried a set of flags for platoon control, similar to whats seen at the beginning of "The Beast".
Maybe your right about them all having radios in the '80's, its been a long time. :)

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/21/2018 4:42:30 AM   
mikeCK

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Sorrow_Knight


quote:

ORIGINAL: Mark Florio

4). Not every tank had radios and those that did were basically following a scripted attack. Jr leaders had very little tactical flexibility. The result was often, at least in their training an aggressive push by increasingly more powerful forces once the vanguard found a weakpoint. But their ability to react mid battle was always predicted to be limited.


And who did say that heresy to you? Since at least T-55 ALL Soviet tanks has radio. And yours vision of Soviet doctrine and tactics is... very far from reality.


Radios or not, sorry, but the OP is simply correct about Soviet doctrine. It was rigid. Whether you want it to have been or not, it was. In order to have a western style doctrine where junior officers and NCOs are expected to exercise their own initiative in order to acomplish a goal, they must have significant training and professionalism. We would be given an order “secure a crossing over the river”. It was up to the company commander (for example) to decide on his own, how to accomplish that. He isn’t told “move your company down this route and secure the MIKECK bridge. By encouraging junior officers to make their own determinations as to how to secure the crossing, you allow them to alter plans on the fly to adjust to the unexpected. If I show up and find bridge MIKECK is heavily defended, I can detach a platoon to feint an attack while the rest of my company secures the next bridge over.

Like it or not, the Soviet Army was a conscript Force. They did not (and could not) provide their NCOs and junior officers with the training required to properly analyze a situation and alter the plan while keeping on task. Soviet junior officers and NCOs were expected to follow orders. You take bridge MIKECK. If the company commander gets there and the bridge is heavily defended, he has two choices: attack anyway or radio his senior commmader, relay the situation and request permission to attack another bridge. THAT takes time. By the time the request is routed and permission is given, the defending troops have reacted and are now defending both bridges

It’s just a fact. If you want junior officers to be able to operate with only general objectives (and not directions), you have to train them extensively. The Red army could not. Heck, I was 11B infantry 1988-1994. By the time I was an E-5 Sgt I had been through airborne school, light leader academy, platoon leaders development course and Scout/sniper school (not nearly as rigorous as today’s). That was just for an infantry Sgt in charge of a squad of 6 guys.

It’s not an insult...it’s just a fact that Soviet doctrine at a tactical level was rigid and company/battalion commanders were expected to follow direction. If they felt it wasn’t a good idea, they had to get new direction. American officers could take immediate action and change plans on the fly

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/21/2018 7:23:37 AM   
Phoenix100

 

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I would think that right now with this game the OP's first point is, for me, the most crucial, urgent development point. I see no real reaction to fire from units at the moment. Mostly, once they have been spotted and fired upon, they just sit in place taking losses or getting wiped out.

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/21/2018 7:46:13 AM   
gbem

 

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All soviet tanks during and after the T-34-85 were equipped with radios... the myth of soviet tanks not having radios only apply to the T-34 mod 41/42 or earlier...

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/21/2018 9:59:10 AM   
pinwolf

 

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Written 1984 in Charles Messenger "Armies of World War 3":

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/21/2018 10:47:28 AM   
Sorrow_Knight

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: mikeCK


quote:

ORIGINAL: Sorrow_Knight
Radios or not, sorry, but the OP is simply correct about Soviet doctrine. It was rigid. Whether you want it to have been or not, it was. In order to have a western style doctrine where junior officers and NCOs are expected to exercise their own initiative in order to acomplish a goal, they must have significant training and professionalism. We would be given an order “secure a crossing over the river”. It was up to the company commander (for example) to decide on his own, how to accomplish that. He isn’t told “move your company down this route and secure the MIKECK bridge. By encouraging junior officers to make their own determinations as to how to secure the crossing, you allow them to alter plans on the fly to adjust to the unexpected. If I show up and find bridge MIKECK is heavily defended, I can detach a platoon to feint an attack while the rest of my company secures the next bridge over.

Like it or not, the Soviet Army was a conscript Force. They did not (and could not) provide their NCOs and junior officers with the training required to properly analyze a situation and alter the plan while keeping on task. Soviet junior officers and NCOs were expected to follow orders. You take bridge MIKECK. If the company commander gets there and the bridge is heavily defended, he has two choices: attack anyway or radio his senior commmader, relay the situation and request permission to attack another bridge. THAT takes time. By the time the request is routed and permission is given, the defending troops have reacted and are now defending both bridges

It’s just a fact. If you want junior officers to be able to operate with only general objectives (and not directions), you have to train them extensively. The Red army could not.

It’s not an insult...it’s just a fact that Soviet doctrine at a tactical level was rigid and company/battalion commanders were expected to follow direction. If they felt it wasn’t a good idea, they had to get new direction. American officers could take immediate action and change plans on the fly

For me, born in USSR and now living in Russia its alwayfunny to listen/read such things about Soviet doctrine from the other side.
This is what Soviet Army Regulations and Fspeak about NCOs and how they must act:
"Управление подразделениями в ходе боя заключается в сборе данных об обстановке, их обработке, принятии решения и постановке новых боевых задач. Сбор данных об обстановке осуществляется непрерывно на протяжении всего боя. Командир роты ( взвода ) получает данные в результате личного наблюдения, докладов подчиненных, информации от вышестоящего командира и соседей. Все поступившие данные командир роты ( взвода ) анализирует, изучает, оценивает и в виде выводов представляет (докладывает) вышестоящему командиру.
На основе имеющихся данных об обстановке при необходимости ранее принятое решение уточняется, а при резком изменении обстановки принимается новое. На основе принятого решения, которое обязательно должно быть утверждено вышестоящим командиром, командир роты ( взвода ) определяет боевые задачи подчиненным. В первую очередь они доводятся до тех подразделений, которые решают главные задачи или начинают действовать первыми."

(Google Translate): "The management of units in the course of the battle consists in collecting data on the situation, processing them, making decisions and setting new combat missions. The collection of data on the situation is carried out continuously throughout the battle. The commander of the company (platoon) receives data as a result of personal observation, reports of subordinates, information from the superior commander and neighbors. The commander of a company (platoon) analyzes all received data, studies, evaluates and presents (reports) to the higher commander in the form of conclusions.
On the basis of the available data on the situation, if necessary, the earlier decision is clarified, and with a sharp change in the situation, a new one is adopted. On the basis of the decision, which must necessarily be approved by a higher commander, the company (platoon) commander determines the combat missions to his subordinates. First of all, they are communicated to those units that solve the main tasks or begin to act first."

As you can see Soviet NCO was not able, bot obliget to act on their own if things gone wrong and there is not option to act as previously ordered.

< Message edited by Sorrow_Knight -- 11/21/2018 10:48:10 AM >

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/21/2018 10:58:38 AM   
Mark Florio

 

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Agreed on most points but remember that persistent NBC was used as an area denial weapon. Also, contaminated units had to go through decon before re-supply or movement into a clean zone. Thus eliminated them potentially from the long battle. Also working in MOPP4 over a long period of time is very degrading. That being said, both sides would be affected equally.

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/21/2018 11:01:55 AM   
Mark Florio

 

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Hi Darwin, good question: Essentially there is doctrine and then there is reality. In a planned attack there would be pre positioned laager sites planned forward to prep the attack and then once attacking the HEMMT's and the supply trucks would closely follow. Usually within 5K of the front line. Then in an attack, usually during a relief of forces they retiring platoon would move to the resupply point close to the front. Resupply would only take about 30 for an entire platoon of Abrams. Assuming no casualties etc. NBC would greatly affect these operations if have to be done in MOPP4.

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/21/2018 11:08:16 AM   
Mark Florio

 

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I think that we have to consider the type of unit and their commo capabilities at the time. The Guards units were likely operating well with radios at the Plt leader level but it was usually one way commo. The bulk of the forces were still made up of T64's and T72's. The T80 was just starting to appear in some select units but not as common as we think today. For sure the Soviet recon forces would have radios too and used them well. Also, we havent even modded communications countermeasures. What happens when the OPFOR shuts down your commo with white noise at a critical time in the battle? We used to train like that at Hohenfels. The Soviets were smart by training rigid attacks because they knew that we would shut down or drown out their nets too.

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/21/2018 11:20:29 AM   
Mark Florio

 

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Hey everyone, great commentary! and it is all designed to improve the game. I love the game mechanics so far and would love to see even more realism applied as more veterans weigh in on their experiences. I have found that there is doctrine, which is how we would like to fight. But remember that doctrine is used as propaganda too. OPRFOR would always analyze the other sides playbook and determine threat vs wishful thinking. And then there is reality. The grim reality is that the best plan is to have every soldier know the objective "Commander's Intent" and the flexibility and training to conduct an operation that will be chaotic and nothing like the plan. The Soviets understood this with their more rigid system of attack. We learned the same lesson but applied a different strategy: Training, maneuver and communications (Air/Land battle doctrine).

In NATO in the late 80's we were using Tank simulators weekly to perfect our crew training. We were also maneuvering and shooting the tanks often. We were as ready to go as a modern mechanized army could be. I could say with great confidence that our NCO's and JR leaders were exceptional and flexible too. I would really love to see the NATO campaign beyond FULDA ... maybe more into the 7th Corps sector where the 3rd infantry and 3rd Armored operated. Lots of challenging terrain with an ability to attack into the flank of any soviet penetration through the Fulda plan towards Frankfurt. Great comments!

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RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/22/2018 8:51:29 PM   
mikeCK

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Sorrow_Knight

quote:

ORIGINAL: mikeCK


quote:

ORIGINAL: Sorrow_Knight
Radios or not, sorry, but the OP is simply correct about Soviet doctrine. It was rigid. Whether you want it to have been or not, it was. In order to have a western style doctrine where junior officers and NCOs are expected to exercise their own initiative in order to acomplish a goal, they must have significant training and professionalism. We would be given an order “secure a crossing over the river”. It was up to the company commander (for example) to decide on his own, how to accomplish that. He isn’t told “move your company down this route and secure the MIKECK bridge. By encouraging junior officers to make their own determinations as to how to secure the crossing, you allow them to alter plans on the fly to adjust to the unexpected. If I show up and find bridge MIKECK is heavily defended, I can detach a platoon to feint an attack while the rest of my company secures the next bridge over.

Like it or not, the Soviet Army was a conscript Force. They did not (and could not) provide their NCOs and junior officers with the training required to properly analyze a situation and alter the plan while keeping on task. Soviet junior officers and NCOs were expected to follow orders. You take bridge MIKECK. If the company commander gets there and the bridge is heavily defended, he has two choices: attack anyway or radio his senior commmader, relay the situation and request permission to attack another bridge. THAT takes time. By the time the request is routed and permission is given, the defending troops have reacted and are now defending both bridges

It’s just a fact. If you want junior officers to be able to operate with only general objectives (and not directions), you have to train them extensively. The Red army could not.

It’s not an insult...it’s just a fact that Soviet doctrine at a tactical level was rigid and company/battalion commanders were expected to follow direction. If they felt it wasn’t a good idea, they had to get new direction. American officers could take immediate action and change plans on the fly

For me, born in USSR and now living in Russia its alwayfunny to listen/read such things about Soviet doctrine from the other side.
This is what Soviet Army Regulations and Fspeak about NCOs and how they must act:

(Google Translate): "The management of units in the course of the battle consists in collecting data on the situation, processing them, making decisions and setting new combat missions. The collection of data on the situation is carried out continuously throughout the battle. The commander of the company (platoon) receives data as a result of personal observation, reports of subordinates, information from the superior commander and neighbors. The commander of a company (platoon) analyzes all received data, studies, evaluates and presents (reports) to the higher commander in the form of conclusions.
On the basis of the available data on the situation, if necessary, the earlier decision is clarified, and with a sharp change in the situation, a new one is adopted. On the basis of the decision, which must necessarily be approved by a higher commander, the company (platoon) commander determines the combat missions to his subordinates. First of all, they are communicated to those units that solve the main tasks or begin to act first."

As you can see Soviet NCO was not able, bot obliget to act on their own if things gone wrong and there is not option to act as previously ordered.



“Encouraging it’s leaders to exercise initiative” is NOT the same as being able to do it. You can say “Mike, I expect you to fix this car yourself”; but if you don’t train me how to do it, it’s not gonna happen.

It doesn’t matter what the Soviet army WANTED their junior officers to do. Doctrine reflects reality. In Afghanistan, Soviet pilots would overfly troops in need of air support to deliver their bombs to a location provided to them previously. Didnt matter if the bombs were no longer needed there. They would fly to the ordered target and drop bombs even if no one was there. Part of an after action review I no longer have access to.

You can’t just claim “well, now we expect our junior officers to exercise initiative....that takes a decade or more of transformation and requires extensive training . You simply can’t provide the training needed at the NCO level (and frankly, at the E-1-E-4 level) necessary to truly exercise initiative when you have soldiers conscripted for 2 years. The Soviet Army simply didn’t provide the training schools and programs to its junior offices and NCOs to enable the ability to exercise initiative.

It took the US 10 years to fundamentally change the doctrine in this regard.

In The 1994 Chechnya war, this issue was evident. Russian troops failed to adapt quickly to combat conditions. NCOs and officers lacked training to carry out complex operations without upper level staff work. I’m not just making this up....The reason the Russian army is moving to a volunteer professional army is because of these deficiencies.

So any article can claim: “oh, we aren’t like that anymore” but the fact that you say it doesn’t make it true. What evidence of fundamental change was there in the Soviet Army in the 1970’s or 80’s would indicate that they are expecting junior officers to make major decisions and operate without guidance. You don’t do that merely by declaring it.

I do disagree with the premise in the article that the “old way” of junior officers requiring specific direction was related to Communism. I don’t believe it was. It was related to the fact the the Soviet Union had to maintain an extremely large military of conscripts and it had neither the time nor money to provide all that is needed for a professional NCO and junior officer Corp

There is also something to be said for the general Soviet Philosophy that modern wars are so deadly that one is better off haveinh large numbers of troops instead of fewer with better Training. Same concept in armor. Why invest in Tank Recover and repair as well as large logistical capabilities and parts of Tanks are going to be destroyed by the 100’s every week? A really good tank can be destroyed by an average tank so better to have 4 average tanks than 1 good one. I’m not sure they were wrong.

So I’m not saying the Soviet Army wasn’t good...not at all. They were very capable and I have no doubt that until about 1983-4 or so, they would have steamrolled NATO in a conventional conflict. But the fact remains that in operation, the Soviets simply lacked the capacity to have their junior officers and NCOs excercise true battlefield initiative even had they wanted to.

Or maybe the entire US military was wrong for 45 years. I served in the US army, not Soviet. I just don’t see how a conscript force does th.


< Message edited by mikeCK -- 11/22/2018 9:21:25 PM >

(in reply to Sorrow_Knight)
Post #: 25
RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/22/2018 9:44:11 PM   
Perturabo


Posts: 2551
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Blond_Knight

I feel like resupply and NBC modeling are outside the scope of this game. There's a thread about resupply but lets talk about NBC for a second.
Its highly likely that the Soviets would have utilized NBC warfare in some form to breakthrough or maintain the tempo of their attack. But remember that the main effect of that, for properly equipped soldiers, is increased fatigue and not high casualties.
A huge psychological impact ofcourse, and very tiring running around in MOPP4, but outside the scope of this game.

I disagree. The game tracks fatigue, morale and training, so stuff that affects it like NBC is well within the scope of the game.
Also, what is interesting how would different weapon systems interact with NBC warfare. For example how would defenders forced to wear full protection gear fare against NBC-protected vehicles?
I remember reading that Soviets planned to not dismount on assaults in NBC conditions.

_____________________________

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They should ask themselves why people who finish schools burned out due to mobbing aren't receiving high enough compensations to not seek vengeance.

(in reply to Blond_Knight)
Post #: 26
RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/22/2018 11:48:06 PM   
demyansk


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You guys are going to town with this one. I guess a little bit of each. Just like after ww2, most of the information was from the west, and the German Heer was the best thing since sliced bread. Over the last 20 years, eastern study has shed light on many of the things we thought were written in stone.

I like reading the information you guys provide on this since I was only an mp.

By the way, I hope we get some mods and some Afghanistan battles in the 1980's

< Message edited by demyansk -- 11/22/2018 11:53:36 PM >

(in reply to Perturabo)
Post #: 27
RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/23/2018 12:57:10 AM   
TarkError

 

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Hey, I wanted to provide some comments here. This is going to be a longish one, and I won't be able to completely explain everything is sufficient detail. My explanations are derived from a close reading of sources by the Soviet Army Studies Office (U.S. Army), the Soviet Studies Research Centre (RMA Sandhurst), James Sterrett's "A Report on Soviet Tactics", and personal correspondence with one of the former threat managers of the OPFOR at Fort Irwin.

quote:

Radios or not, sorry, but the OP is simply correct about Soviet doctrine. It was rigid. Whether you want it to have been or not, it was.


Rigid is not the correct word to use for describing Soviet tactics and battle drills. The more appropriate word would be "versatility". The main difference between the normal Soviet conscript and his Western counterpart is that the Soviet guy is trained to perform a smaller number of tasks and skills well. I find that most Western soldiers and officers mistake a Soviet soldier's limited skillset as "rigid" when they actually mean that he's less "versatile". A Soviet conscript wasn't trained to have the skills needed to also serve in Northern Ireland, overseas expeditionary wars, or peacekeeping operations, and that's fine.

I want to post this quote from James Sterrett's report, as I think it's perfect to describe the Soviet relationship of initiative at the low formation level:

quote:

"Probably the most enduring stereotype of the Soviet way of war is that of rigidity - attacks at all costs, orders followed slavishly, tactics by the exact diagram in the manual regardless of the situation. This is also one of the stereotypes most likely to cause heartburn - or death - in an enemy facing a Soviet-style opponent executing the doctrine properly.

Remember this: A Soviet officer is expected to display initiative. When executing a Battle Drill or a superior's order, the orders given must be altered as necessary to fit the specific situation and mission. The drills are a route to speedy communication & execution in accordance with Patton's belief that "a good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week".

Thus, the expectation of an officer runs in this manner: A situation arises. The officer arrives at a decision, with the help of those norms of conduct the officer believes to be applicable. The order is given as one or more battle drills, each modified as far as necessary to meet the needs of the mission. The Soviets would not consider an officer who did something stupid by following the letter of the book to have acted properly - they would consider the officer stupid."


As the quote implies, Soviet officers were certainly expected to come up with creative solutions; the main difference is that their toolbox to accomplish their tasks was more limited--at least for the company-platoon level.

quote:

In order to have a western style doctrine where junior officers and NCOs are expected to exercise their own initiative in order to acomplish a goal, they must have significant training and professionalism. We would be given an order “secure a crossing over the river”. It was up to the company commander (for example) to decide on his own, how to accomplish that. He isn’t told “move your company down this route and secure the MIKECK bridge. By encouraging junior officers to make their own determinations as to how to secure the crossing, you allow them to alter plans on the fly to adjust to the unexpected. If I show up and find bridge MIKECK is heavily defended, I can detach a platoon to feint an attack while the rest of my company secures the next bridge over.
They did not (and could not) provide their NCOs and junior officers with the training required to properly analyze a situation and alter the plan while keeping on task. Soviet junior officers and NCOs were expected to follow orders. You take bridge MIKECK. If the company commander gets there and the bridge is heavily defended, he has two choices: attack anyway or radio his senior commmader, relay the situation and request permission to attack another bridge. THAT takes time. By the time the request is routed and permission is given, the defending troops have reacted and are now defending both bridges


In this scenario, if bridge MIKECK was very, very essential to the success of the Soviet parent formation, the company commander might find his unit supported by a tank company, regimental artillery, maybe even some attack helicopters, as well as the senior commanders and staffs present to handle coordination and additional planning, so that the company commander could focus on his primary job!

More realistically, you'd see "secure a river crossing" tasks and other independent missions done by forward detachment formations, which would be led by commanders with a higher caliber of competence (see The Soviet Conduct of Tactical Maneuver: Spearhead of the Offensive by David M. Glantz for more information; that book also has examples of forward detachment actions in WW2, with quite a few involving pre-emptive attacks and seizures of river crossings; and also James F. Holcomb, "A Commander's Guide to the Soviet Forward Detachment," Military Review, December 1989).

quote:

Like it or not, the Soviet Army was a conscript Force.


So was the Bundeswehr and many NATO armies during the Cold War, but I have rarely seen comments that the West Germans had inferior troop quality and commanders because they relied on conscripts.

quote:

It’s just a fact. If you want junior officers to be able to operate with only general objectives (and not directions), you have to train them extensively. The Red army could not. Heck, I was 11B infantry 1988-1994. By the time I was an E-5 Sgt I had been through airborne school, light leader academy, platoon leaders development course and Scout/sniper school (not nearly as rigorous as today’s). That was just for an infantry Sgt in charge of a squad of 6 guys.


Soviet junior guys weren't expected to lead like their Western counterparts, although they did get extensive training. Soviet soldier and junior officer education was more along the lines of single-track specialties over a broad curriculum. (There is a more detailed explanation why but it's too long to post.) The Soviet Army didn't really develop their NCOs like Western ones--again, the Soviet military context didn't have a place for Western-style professional armies. That view began to change in around 1990 or so but that talk is outside of the context of the 1980s mechanized battlefield.

quote:

It’s not an insult...it’s just a fact that Soviet doctrine at a tactical level was rigid and company/battalion commanders were expected to follow direction. If they felt it wasn’t a good idea, they had to get new direction. American officers could take immediate action and change plans on the fly


I think there's some confusion here over what I mentioned about versatility and another thing I will introduce. There's a concept called "yedinonachaliye" (one-man command) in the Soviet command system, which means that a commander is ultimately responsible for success or failure of his unit and has absolute authority over his subordinates.

This means two things. Firstly, incompetent subordinates tasked with an independent mission facing the unexpected may choose to wait for orders rather than take a risk action, or continue with an action no longer relevant with the situation. This corresponds to your traditional descriptions of "rigidity", but this also asks a rhetorical question: what kind of commander would ask a lower-caliber commander to carry out an important independent task? More likely you'd be seeing a situation like I described earlier--the company commander with his superiors (and appropriate support assets) present at the bridge! If the battalion or regimental commander's butt is on the line if the company commander's mission fails, then he'll be on the spot to ensure success (or failure) is within his realm of control!

Secondly, yedinonachaliye gives a commander tasked with an independent mission a vast amount of leeway to exercise his skill at any level! A commander of a battalion-sized forward detachment would be expected to display a great degree of creativity and imagination in accomplishing his task, and a commander of a field army has flexibility because he can expect his subordinates to do whatever he wants them to do. I've found a common assumption amongst Western soldiers that since a Soviet commander is disallowed to do his own thing when he's someone's immediate subordinate, he is also assumed to not display independence when ordered to fight detached from his parent forces. The only limitation will be his professional competence, as Sterrett's quote will indicate.

Finally, for a good summary of Soviet battlefield agility during World War II (as role-models for the Cold War), I highly recommend Richard Armstrong's article "Battlefield Agility: The Soviet Legacy", published in the Journal of Slavic Military Studies back in 1988:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13518048808429924

I also wanted to provide comments to your second post. I hope you all won't mind the length.

quote:

In The 1994 Chechnya war, this issue was evident. Russian troops failed to adapt quickly to combat conditions. NCOs and officers lacked training to carry out complex operations without upper level staff work. I’m not just making this up....The reason the Russian army is moving to a volunteer professional army is because of these deficiencies.


Context is important for understanding the Russian Army in Chechnya. Firstly, we have to understand that with the fall of the USSR and the Soviet military, the Russian military was in shambles financially, in morale, and organizationally. The Russians hadn't conducted divisional-level exercises since 1992, and the forces that went to Chechnya were a salad bowl of mixed units married together with equipment, without the time needed to train up. In retrospect, we cannot look at the Chechen War and then judge the pre-collapse Soviet Army by the Russian Army's appalling performance there. That was certainly the Russians' lowest military point since 1941, IMO. I would not expect a Western-style army afflicted with low morale, complete disorganization, a big political upheaval, and lack of a military budget to perform any better than the Russians if they went into Caucasia instead.

quote:

There is also something to be said for the general Soviet Philosophy that modern wars are so deadly that one is better off haveinh large numbers of troops instead of fewer with better Training. Same concept in armor. Why invest in Tank Recover and repair as well as large logistical capabilities and parts of Tanks are going to be destroyed by the 100’s every week? A really good tank can be destroyed by an average tank so better to have 4 average tanks than 1 good one. I’m not sure they were wrong.


The first point is true; there's really isn't a reason to make a jet fighter engine intended for long-term peacetime usage if both a MiG and F-15's wartime life will probably be the same.

But the second point is not true; the Soviets in both WWII and the Cold War had extensive logistical and repair facilities for maintaining the sustainability of their armored forces in battle. During some of the high-speed "Desert Storm"-type offensives like the Lvov–Sandomierz Operation, recovering knocked-out tanks, repairing them, and reintroducing them to battle was the primary way of sustaining combat capability during an offensive, not by feeding fresh tanks into a meat grinder.

quote:

ORIGINAL: pinwolf

Written 1984 in Charles Messenger "Armies of World War 3":


Charles Messenger, and much of what is written in English in open-source books (esp. David Isby, Viktor Suvorov, and FM 100-2-1 from 1984) was before Western subject-matter specialists had gone into the meat of Soviet source materials and understood it from the Soviet perspective, in around 1988-89-ish. In the longer term, a more sophisticated understanding of the Soviet military didn't really hit a wider audience in NATO's armies because by then, communist power had collapsed in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union was no longer seen as a primary threat to the West!


< Message edited by TarkError -- 11/23/2018 1:26:04 AM >

(in reply to demyansk)
Post #: 28
RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/23/2018 3:33:03 AM   
Perturabo


Posts: 2551
Joined: 11/17/2007
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quote:

ORIGINAL: mikeCK

In The 1994 Chechnya war, this issue was evident. Russian troops failed to adapt quickly to combat conditions. NCOs and officers lacked training to carry out complex operations without upper level staff work. I’m not just making this up....

Weren't Chechen forces be more representative of performance of actual Soviet army than the bankrupt 90s Russian army, though?

_____________________________

People shouldn't ask themselves why schools get shoot up.
They should ask themselves why people who finish schools burned out due to mobbing aren't receiving high enough compensations to not seek vengeance.

(in reply to mikeCK)
Post #: 29
RE: Observations from an Armor officer - 11/23/2018 5:41:25 AM   
mikeCK

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Perturabo

quote:

ORIGINAL: mikeCK

In The 1994 Chechnya war, this issue was evident. Russian troops failed to adapt quickly to combat conditions. NCOs and officers lacked training to carry out complex operations without upper level staff work. I’m not just making this up....

Weren't Chechen forces be more representative of performance of actual Soviet army than the bankrupt 90s Russian army, though?


I think the Soviet Army was better trained and disciplined than the Russian army of 1994. And I think the Russia army of 2018 is FAR better trained and capable than the Soviet Army. So it’s not a US v Russian thing. I think the current Russian army is very capable and in areas like electronic warfare and long range fires far exceeds the capability of the US army.

But as far as what their junior leaders could do, I’m not sure there is a difference between 1989 and 1994. I guess my point is that expecting your officers to exercise discretion AND make the right choices requires professional schooling. The type of training that US (and many NATO) junior officers and NCOs received simply didn’t occur in the Soviet Army. That’s not to say that they weren’t well trained....the were! Just not in the same areas as their western counterparts

So, I’m not suggesting the US Army was better, better trained, more diciplined or anything else (differently discussion). I’m merely saying that the Soviets did not - from what I know- train their junior leaders to exercise that type of initiative. So in combat, you would
Have likely seen Russian officers following orders or taking the time to get permission to deviate...rigidity.

Just my opinion

(in reply to Perturabo)
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