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"SAW & Other Support Weapons in Close Combat" Topic


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12 Dec 2011 6:24 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "SAW in Close Combat" to "SAW & Other Support Weapons in Close Combat"

03 Jun 2015 9:00 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian12 Dec 2011 5:54 p.m. PST

In Osprey/Ambush Alley Games' Force on Force rules, support weapons normally provide bonus firepower, but not in close combat. As the rulebook states:

The very attribute that makes support weapons so successful in their designated roles generally reduces their effectiveness in a Close Assault.

The rules mention that support weapons are often designed to be used at longer ranges, are cumbersome, and are heavy.

Do you approve of this design approach?

* yes, great way to handle support weapons
* no, I can't agree with this
* no opinion

Wartopia12 Dec 2011 6:12 p.m. PST

* Yes, great way to handle support weapons.

In multiple combat memoirs from Iraq veterans I've read that the official fire team organization is often ignored and squads and platoons are "task organized". In urban clearing operations this usually means the SAWs are used to cover the area surrounding a target building while M4s and even shotguns are used for breaching and clearing.

And while SAWs are deemed sufficient for urban operations I've also read that units prefer the M240 for rural missions due to its heavier round being more appropriate for longer ranged fighting.

In Iraq and Afghanistan this idea of task organization relative to mission and terrain seems to mold how squads and platoons function (and equip themselves) in the real world as opposed to doctrine, at least doctrine as available to we civilians. By now "old school doctrine" has probably been modified to reflect battlefield experience. Perhaps those currently serving can tell us to what degree Iraq and Afghanistan have shaped training programs.

Cerberus031112 Dec 2011 6:14 p.m. PST

Topic tag dosent really match the question.

To answer the tag line question.
You want to try to get in a fist fight with one hand tied behind your back? A SAW's primary job is to suppress an area so that the fireteam can maneuver to a position to better engage the target with its other weapons. Its not a weapon with a bayonet lug so even the design tells you a bit about it…

To answer the question asked.
Yes I approve of the design decision since it models reality.

vojvoda12 Dec 2011 6:46 p.m. PST

A SAW in the right hands can be used for CBQ. I did room clearing with one in 2002. I could also put down suppressive fire with a c-mag. As to bayonets I got stabbed in the head by one in Panama. I was too close to the dingbat to engage him with my M4. I pulled out my M1911 and shot him three times in the face point blank. As for breaching I had a M-4 with a shot gun mounted below it. Similar to the M-4/M203 combination. In close quarter battle it is speed, surprise and violence of action that count most.
VR
James Mattes

Rubber Suit Theatre12 Dec 2011 6:48 p.m. PST

Some support weapons have a minimum range, especially the ones with explosive warheads. Machine guns have an area coverage determined by the arc of fire, which means the area size that they can cover shrinks with range. Some of them also require one to be prone or otherwise braced when firing them due to large cartridges. A short-barreled (bulldog) M249 is more or less equivalent to an M-4 carbine with a 200-round drum, but it's a lousy machine gun (the M-4 is incidentally a lousy rifle). Where it gets weird is when you have things like fully automatic shotguns, or flamethrowers (not that anyone still uses those). They're support weapons, but only useful in close combat.

Ratbone12 Dec 2011 7:36 p.m. PST

Most units modify the majority of their SAWs these days. They have a short barrel and a short stock. Makes it really easy to manuever in vehicles and buildings. Still heavy, but helps a lot. As was mentioned though, they try to avoid sending that guy in for clearing.

Lion in the Stars12 Dec 2011 7:40 p.m. PST

You need to be pretty big in order to effectively use even a SAW in CQB, but even if you're 6'/190lbs, a SAW is slower to point than the M4.

It's why the Marines are buying the M27 IAR. faster and handier than the SAW in CQB, but the SAW will hang out in the vehicles for the times when the Marines aren't kicking in doors.

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2011 8:09 p.m. PST

You don't need to be that big to do CQB with a SAW just training, three round burst from a SAW can keep a tight group at 14 yards and less, the weight of the weapon eats up the recoil. The SAW gunner should be armed with a pistol not a KaBar fighting knife.

Ironwolf12 Dec 2011 9:08 p.m. PST

If your talking about clearing a building or position kinda close assault, a SAW will work just as good as any other projectile weapon. Now if your talking about hand to hand with a knife or spade. Then its bulk can slow you down and not so good for this type of close assault.

Steve6412 Dec 2011 9:31 p.m. PST

Yes, I agree with the decision.

Another point not noted is that combat rarely occurs after magically teleporting into the danger zone .. all fresh and cheery and smelling of aftershave. I think a lot of wargames sort of assume that the combatants are operating in some ideal state when fighting begins.

I cant speak for the other armies at all, but in my experience anyway, there is a long and tedious lead up period of cat and mouse before shots are ever fired. Long, hard, fast marches that go for days on end, day and night .. no sleep … no food .. Bleeped text all water. The word "fatigue" doesnt come close to describing it.

Dont know. Try putting on a full pack and covering 100km cross country in 24hrs before getting into a close fight. You take the SAW, and I'll take my steyr :)

Actually, the closest thing I have seen on TV that describes what all that feels like .. is not any war movie at all … watch the Tour de France non stop. By stage 18 or whatever it is, they are still going flat out day after day, and then these ridiculous mountains suddenly appear out of nowhere. And they never seem to end. Its at that point that the champions actually speed up and accelerate. Bleeped text ?

I still believe that battles are actually won during the march, and all those bullets and bayonets are just the final act of a very long play.

My 2c

Mako1112 Dec 2011 11:01 p.m. PST

Lighter, shorter weapons are much easier to get to bear on a target at close range, if they aren't pointed in the correct direction in the first place.

Granted, once a SAW is on target, it can throw a lot of lead, but getting there first is usually the most important issue.

I'll take a lighter weight weapon, anyday, in a close-quarters battle.

Yes, sounds like they got the rule right, but if you want to tweak it a bit, permit the squad support weapon to be used as a bonus for ONE pre-selected lane of fire, just in case a target happens to show up unexpectedly in one of those, e.g. only in the direction the weapon it is pointed in by the figure on the table (or the direction a chit points to, if using "fog of war", so your enemies don't know where your firing lanes are in advance).

CPT Jake13 Dec 2011 2:37 a.m. PST

I've fired both M60s and M240s from the hip and shoulder. That is not fun.

A M249 SAW, especially the folding stock model, is actually pretty easy to handle with training and practice.

picture

I think from a game perspective, if you are using it for room clearing you are giving up the 'bonus' you get from setting it up as a support by fire weapon, and sice you are using it like an M4, counting it as one makes sense to me.

Jake

Wartopia13 Dec 2011 5:07 a.m. PST

So Jake, are you saying if using the M249 like an M4 (in game terms) there should be no difference between the M4 and 249?

Dynaman878913 Dec 2011 5:21 a.m. PST

Sounds good to me, the extra ammo and firepower is offset by the unwieldiness in close combat situations. At least at the abstraction level of a FOF game.

Dragon Gunner13 Dec 2011 5:38 a.m. PST

For the level of play yes…

Now for another peace time perspective using miles (laser tag). That 200 round drum is ideal for spitting lead and sweeping a room. One of the tricks I learned in MOUT training was to wait for the two man M16 assault team to spray a room on full auto and drop their mags to the floor. I would then turn the corner and single shot both of them dead while they fumbled with their mag pouches. I would never attempt it against a SAW they rarely expended the whole drum in one long burst.

CPT Jake13 Dec 2011 5:45 a.m. PST

I think that if you are using your M249 for close assault or building clearing there is really not much of a difference between it and the M4; you lose the 'bonus' of it being a support weapon because you are not using it in a support weapon role.

I am not saying in FoF game terms that an M249 is always the same M4, nor should it be (in any game at that level of play), I am saying there are times when you are using the M249 in the same role as an M4, so during those times it makes sense to treat it as an M4.

Since FoF is the example in the OP, this happens to to be the way FoF handles it. I agree with that method, but do not agree that in all cases there is no difference between a SAW and a normal battle rifle.

As FoF puts it:

Designers' Note: Why Can't I Use My SAW in Close Assault?


The short answer is you can! You just don't get the bonus Firepower dice for it!
Support weapons are designed to perform a specific tactical function in combat and that purpose invariably involves some sort of stand-off capability which increases a unit's ability to cause casualties or suppression through fire combat at a distance. The very attributes that make support
weapons so successful in their designated roles generally reduces their effectiveness in a Close Assault. Additionally, they're not very handy. A SAW's great rate of fire, for instance, is counterbalanced by its extra weight.

Seems like sound logic to me…

Wartopia13 Dec 2011 5:49 a.m. PST

Yes, agreed, that makes sense.

But as Lion points out the 249 is less agile than the M4. So while the support weapon bonus is lost might there also be an argument for making the 249 less effective in CQB?

Not sure how that would work specifically in FoF, but, depending on level of game detail, it might be appropriate in any game.

Billy Yank13 Dec 2011 5:50 a.m. PST

Can you use it for room clearing? Of course. My platoon did it on occasion in Baghdad. But by doing that you are giving up its greatest strength. I've never played the ruleset, but my thought is that it ought to make the SAWs usefulness as a support weapon far outweigh its usefulness in close combat. That way the player has to make the call, and will only use it for close combat when he has no other choice.

Billy Yank

Dynaman878913 Dec 2011 6:19 a.m. PST

> my thought is that it ought to make the SAWs usefulness as a support weapon far outweigh its usefulness in close combat

In normal ranged combat the SAW gets one extra attack die, which is a decent advantage. It does not get the bonus that larger or crew served MGs get (they can auto suppress without using a special rule that SAWs and other non crew served weapons use – no idea if that is a good cutoff point for such a rule or not myself, never been there or done that)

Lion in the Stars13 Dec 2011 6:39 a.m. PST

A single die plus or minus is roughly 25% of the combat effectiveness of the team in FoF. I don't think even an M240 (heavy pig that it is) fired from the shoulder is going to result in a 25% reduction in the effectiveness of the fireteam.

In other rules scales, where there's a difference between a rifle, a scoped rifle, a SAW, and a real MG, then maybe.

whoa Mohamed13 Dec 2011 8:21 a.m. PST

I disagree with the violent fast stuff in clearing buildings . Remember slow is smooth and smooth is fast .
you Have a varied threat matrix and you just cant Afford to miss something important besides when your engaged your done when your done the bad guys ain't going no where …you have BIEDs and booby traps and non combatants to worry about…civie stuff may be different.
There is a reason for small firearms in CQB….short range engagement , low visibility. round over penetration etc
real experience : Its Dark you cant see crap
Any shooting jacks up your hearing
Bullets do ricochet
stone and concrete walls do spall
The building fills up with smoke and dust .
Cant see , cant hear , can't breath scared out of your wits. have to shoot bad guys while avoiding innocent people in a task where who shoots first may decide who lives or dies…You fight with what you have at the moment that's it

Dynaman878913 Dec 2011 9:31 a.m. PST

> disagree with the violent fast stuff in clearing buildings . Remember slow is smooth and smooth is fast

Yes and no, you might take hours before you move into another room, but when you do it's all done in a matter of seconds. From room clearing ops that I know of (very few) the planning took a while, but once it started the attackers went room to room as fast as possible in order to keep the tactical advantage.

whoa Mohamed13 Dec 2011 10:53 a.m. PST

The slow and smooth part incorporates the planing to some extent …its not like a swat team that may have access to building plans …Knowing what and where everyone will be.
there are to many variables that have to be considered i trained teams at a walking pace eyes to muzzle smooth movement with purpose.
The fact is you just don't know whats in the building or trench to be running around visiting violence that's just a good way to get killed or trip a explosive .
First you train your people how to prepare a building for defense show them all the little tricks then they are ready to train on clearing..There are a million ways to do this ,just like a diet fad but I survived 3 wars so i figure I was and I trained stuff that works…Mikey

whoa Mohamed13 Dec 2011 11:11 a.m. PST

Dragons point is well taken …our enemys are smart and dangerous. you really want to be firing short controled precise bursts. You always need to use peel backs to reload so there is never a empty weapon between you and the bad guys. The Rules in FOF are really good representing fighting of this type at the level they represent.
Never fill a magazine to capicity IE a 20 round Mag should never have more then 18 rounds. This cuts down on double feeds and mag sprig related failures.
Load 15 Ball and finaly 3 tracer . This provides a visual cue to you and your battle buddy that you are going to need to change magazines.
Never drop a magazine Period anywhere any time.
Never clear a building that you can blow up with a tank or something else (if your ROE permit it).Unless you have to.

Dynaman878913 Dec 2011 11:55 a.m. PST

> Never drop a magazine Period anywhere any time.

DO what my friend did, he carried an empty magazine around and dropped it, still had rounds in his gun of course. (He was real fun on the few occasions when he played paintball as well)

Dragon Gunner13 Dec 2011 3:13 p.m. PST

"but once it started the attackers went room to room as fast as possible in order to keep the tactical advantage."

Part of my training was to clear the building as quickly as possible, consolidate your position and prepare for a counter attack to retake the building. My unit policy was to not leave a portion of the building in enemy hands so they could feed more men into it from a portion we did not control.

vojvoda14 Dec 2011 2:34 a.m. PST

I think the difference is between MOUT and CQB. I only carried a SAW about three or four times in CQB. It really was not that big a deal I could use it as well as my M4 which had an M203 or shotgun mounted below it. CQB is more violent and aggressive then MOUT. Few units are trained in CQB. It is more discrimitive but faster in room clearing.
VR
James Mattes

vojvoda14 Dec 2011 7:21 a.m. PST

I went through three basic loads in Somalia 14 mags and about 420 rounds each load. I had a speed loader in my pocket and we passed it around, empty mags went into our fatigue jackets. We had helo resupply that dropped cans of ammo to us. I only shot around 30 to 40 combatants but fired over 1000 rounds.
VR
James Mattes

Lion in the Stars14 Dec 2011 10:30 a.m. PST

Whoa… your poor rifle! No overheating problems?

I guess that means the MGM Ironman 3-gun competitive shoot with 1000+ rifle rounds, 1000+ pistol rounds and 500+ shotgun (over 100 slugs) isn't quite as insane as I thought it was, if it's less than a (really bad) day or two in Mogadishu. It's two *long* days shooting, pretty much sunrise to sunset both days.

I guess the shipboard security guys ended up getting full-blown CQB training, since there wasn't anything 'slow' about what happened there. Pretty close to shooting at a dead run to a full sprint. A couple guys were complaining about the movie 'SWAT', saying that the actors were entirely too slow going through the training scenes.

vojvoda14 Dec 2011 1:55 p.m. PST

It was a period of about twenty hours, we even came back to base after the first convoy had been hit hard. I helped clean out the 2 1/2 ton truck that Gris Martin had been hit in. Serveral of the captives were killed and body parts and remains were everywhere, we basically sweep everything out with buckets of water and got ready to go back out.

An average training session for me would be about 500 rounds. Our weapons section was about 30 guys who did nothing but fix our weapons. I could walk down two bays and and turn in a weapon to be fixed. At the time I have seven weapons assigned to me they were kept in the team room. Each team had a walk in locker where weapons and ammo were stored. If I wanted to come in and go train at 3 AM and go to the range so be it. Ranges were always open and the Ammo dump was manned 24/7. Range 19 had I think seven or eight ranges, numerous rooms you could shoot in on site in the kill house. It is a total different mind set, shooting is everything and there are no restrictions on training ever.

VR
James Mattes

Dragon Gunner14 Dec 2011 2:53 p.m. PST

Vojvoda must be nice to be Special Forces and have an unlimited budget :).

vojvoda14 Dec 2011 5:50 p.m. PST

It wasn't a matter of money, everyone was totally comitted to the mission. Once you have been there you understand the mind set. I had the honour of working along side of two medal of honour soldiers, and being trained by three others. I just hope I did them justice. They are my heros.

VR
James Mattes

vojvoda14 Dec 2011 6:31 p.m. PST

Steve64 12 Dec 2011 9:31 p.m. PST wrote:
Yes, I agree with the decision.

Another point not noted is that combat rarely occurs after magically teleporting into the danger zone .. all fresh and cheery and smelling of aftershave. I think a lot of wargames sort of assume that the combatants are operating in some ideal state when fighting begins.
I cant speak for the other armies at all, but in my experience anyway, there is a long and tedious lead up period of cat and mouse before shots are ever fired. Long, hard, fast marches that go for days on end, day and night .. no sleep … no food .. all water. The word "fatigue" doesnt come close to describing it.

Spot on my friend, spot on. Too many times then I can count we pushed ourselves beyond what was cosider the norm.
VR
James Mattes

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