Friday, May 16, 2014

All Is Tactics Until Bullets (or BBs) Start Flying - ArmA 3 - And Fake Guns

I've been reading a lot of translated WWII-era Soviet translations of field manuals. Among many other things, there is the recurring theme of mass and momentum (keep moving forward). Very interesting stuff that maybe I can write something about in the future. Although I've grown past the common (and wrong) perception that all Soviet infantry were just mobs moved in human waves by ruthless commissars, I found myself wondering why a formation here and there was not better laid out.

Nicknamed after the Argentine 1880s warlord "Chacho" Penaloza, my son has taught me the value of keeping things simple. Here pictured during a break at an airsoft match.

I was letting my war game mind of neat formations, precise knowledge and God-like command of the world to overreach. My father-son first forays into the world of airsoft (picture above) came instantly into mind. We were lucky enough to play in a big forest area with a great group of people who like tactics and I immediately jumped in with all type of things. The first was to buddy-team with my kiddo: found out I am not so good keeping him aware of what I am about to do, or reporting contacts. The second was to try keep a squad-sized group of people moving in bounds: found out that the first casualty of keeping up with somebody is situational awareness (the second is yourself).

The collective tactical solutions in the airsoft team we played with (and very common among different groups), appears to have emerged spontaneously and is a happy medium. Sporadic, ad-hoc and contact-triggered buddy-teaming. The bounding movement just happens as the result of stamina, personality and markmanship differences (people with better aim and guns tend to stay slightly behind).

Off course, this coming from a game where there is no live ammo and no risk of life loss. Professional squads of real soldiers are able to pull those moves because they are professionals and train together for a long time. But if we think about the conscript, hastily trained WWII infantry ...

Since I play ArmA 3 a lot in the role of squad leader, I wondered what it looks like to be part of a squad tasked with a simple mission.

A tiny, self made scenario. The enemy has been spotted in a small valley likely setting up gear for a company-sized heliborne insertion.  I am part of a squad tasked with clearing the enemy forces. I only command a AR.
This is the only opportunity in which I used the map, just to show you the situation. I am part of Alpha Squad. Alpha and Bravo move ahead on different axis, clearing enemy troops from the likely LZ. Charlie Squad provides security avoiding enemy troops from escaping.
An enemy helicopter hit by an anti-air missile did not escape the operations area.

Moving forward. I am avoiding the in-game 3rd person view and using TrackIR. My other team mates are slightly ahead and we are still trailing. This is #2 (my only command in this mission). Contact was made by the squad but we two don't have a visual on the targets.

We move forward and I can only see a squad member (near the trees) besides King (my command).  Bullets zip over our heads. We alternate between prone and crouched and I swear I hear the other squadies in our backs. Are they firing over our heads?
The fire intensifies and we go prone. Bullets crack over us. Where is everybody?

We crawl up to a clear area and finally can engage some enemy troops. The second it quiet downs, a squad member runs through our position and towards the front. There were friendly troops behind us all this time!

Never in my life been so happy to see an AI bot. Reinforced by almost the full squad, we move up the hill where the final objective is.

The risk of losing sight of the other men is lower now, so I go "tactical" moving a bit slower and covering every suspicious position.
Alpha Squad at the objective area. Casualties: two men.

On the other side of the area of operations, Bravo Squad seem to have had a lot of fun without suffering any casualties.
What I took home from the ArmA 3 mission is that off course combat is pure confusion and that a half second miss step in a tactical move can derail the cohesion of un-trained men (that will be me, the AI knows its drills very well).

To sum it up: a well-trained force will be able to perform acts of exquisite tactical depth. A low-trained force, although limited in their repertoire, can accomplish a lot if guided by a leader who recognizes its strengths and weaknesses. Sounds a lot like what happened frequently in the WWII Eastern Front.

Cheers,



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In truth I never understood how so.eone could believe the nazi propaganda on ruthless Red Army tactics. And in Bagration it was the Ruskies who used the blitzkrieg to a deadly effect. And almost half of the troops had year or more combat experience. So they no longer were conscripts. The thing is that after the 41 Red Army used the wave tactics on rare ocassions the last time I read it was during Stalingrad. The problem of the Red Army was the lack of the platoon leaders who could lead men and knew tactics up till 1944.
Chris Adamus