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"National characteristics – varies depending on level? " Topic


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GreenLeader18 Feb 2017 2:18 a.m. PST

I am not sure I am going to be able to explain quite what I mean here, but I will have a bash. It is common fare in wargames rules to designate some armies as better than others. What I am wondering about is, at what level/levels such difference are valid and worth representing.

For example, I think most people would accept that the German army of WW2 was very good indeed. So it would not be unreasonable for a set of rules covering the Campaign in NW Europe in 1944/45 to compare it favourably to (for example) the British army… but is this the case at all levels?
Man on man, I would say it was not the case: there were very bad German soldiers and very good British ones – there is no real justification to say that ALL German soldiers would be better marksmen, for example, or more motivated.
So at a section level, is it applicable? Perhaps a little more so, and I contend that a platoon / company / perhaps battalion level, the German units could reasonably be considered ‘better' than their British counter part: these units are large enough to average out the individual, and for superior doctrines / better support weapons / more dynamic NCOs and junior officers to make a difference.
From Brigade level up, it gets a little more hazy, though – at least in my opinion, as the British (or Canadian, or American) unit is likely to greatly benefit from superior logistics, superior artillery, superior air support, better engineering assets, better spares and replacements, less troublesome tanks and generally be larger / more able to replace losses etc. So I think once we reach that level, it would not be unreasonable to rate a brigade of the Western Allies as a superior unit to a German brigade, similarly for a Division.

I am just throwing this out as food for thought – not entirely sure where I am going with it, but it just occurred to me earlier today: I guess we wargamers tend to paint with a pretty broad brush (pun intended) and while some armies might be ‘better' at a given level, they are less so at others, and a decent rule set would reflect this, rather than just trotting out the same old clichés.
I guess the point is that the advantages enjoyed by the Western Allies were in logistics / artillery / air support – and these are more telling at a higher level. The advantages the Germans had – excellent tanks, MG42s, 88s, fanatical devotion, excellent NCOs – were more telling at a lower level. And as more wargames rules tend to ignore ‘boring' aspects of warfare, and ‘cut to the chase' this perpetuates the notion of German superiority, and suggests it applied at all levels.

I only use German / British forces here by way of example, so please lets not get sucked into addressing those specific points – all I am trying to say is that wargames rules should recognise that ‘good' armies are not necessarily good at all levels. I could equally have used Boers vs Imperial forces: on a man-to-man level, there is not much between them… at a slightly higher level (say 50-100 men), the Boers will probably be a ‘better' unit than the Imperial counterpart (better average individual marksmanship, better mobility, flexible low-level command), but at higher level than this, the imperial unit would probably be better (better logistics, artillery, signals, much more disciplined, defined and organised command structure etc).

Martin Rapier18 Feb 2017 2:36 a.m. PST

The short answer to the proposition is, yes, of course.

We are creating models of large human organisations under operating conditions of stress and uncertainty, and the ranges of the variables will be different depending what you are modelling.

An Army Corps behaves very differently to a rifle section, and e.g. Dupuys CEV ratings calculated at divisional level indicating an Israeli superiority of over 2:1 over the Egyptian Army in 1967 might well translate into assigning a combat value of 6 to an IDF tank battalion, vs 3 for an Egyptian one in a operational game, but it certainly doesn't mean an individual IDF infantryman is twice as good as his Egyptian counterpart.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member18 Feb 2017 2:45 a.m. PST

And even if the organizational structure is the same within a given army for e.g. Divisions or Corps, there still can be wildly different performances between individual units of the same army.

Whirlwind18 Feb 2017 3:07 a.m. PST

Yes of course – I think I made this point in the other thread.

That said, I think that your example, although possible, is more likely to be the other way around. The differences between individuals as human beings is likely to dwarf the size of "national differences", but as they aggregate, they get appreciable and the variation between individual humans evens out. So, in the example above, I'd be more inclined to give the Germans larger and larger advantages over the US given a higher-level formation of equal strength . The US get their logistical advantages by simply having more equipped and fuelled formations for a given portion of the front…(an advantage which ultimately trumps the others).

advocate18 Feb 2017 3:31 a.m. PST

Didn't Wellington say something along the lines that man for man British cavalry were superior to the French, but squadron for squadron he would back the French.

Whirlwind18 Feb 2017 4:07 a.m. PST

Didn't Wellington say something along the lines that man for man British cavalry were superior to the French, but squadron for squadron he would back the French.

"I considered our cavalry so inferior to the French from want of order that, although I considered one squadron a match for two French, I did not like to see four British opposed to four French; and as the numbers increased and order, of course, became more necessary, I was the more unwilling to risk our men without having a superiority in numbers. They could gallop, but not preserve their order"

Plus a note on it here: link

GreenLeader18 Feb 2017 4:07 a.m. PST

Martin Rapier

Well, the question might have been better phrased thus:

If an Israeli division is reasonably considered worth 2 Egyptian ones, and – as you suggest – a tank battalion similarly, when does this equation start balancing out?

And, more pertinently, do most wargames rules representing an Israeli vs Egyptian action at platoon / company level nevertheless tend to utilise some form of the 2:1 advantage, or a different number?

GreenLeader18 Feb 2017 4:09 a.m. PST

The Wellington quote is pretty much what I am driving at:

Would many wargames rules represent British cavalry as 'better' than the French in smaller actions, but at a disadvantage in larger ones?

Or would the usual 'national characteristics' we tend to see in wargames rule the roost?

Whirlwind18 Feb 2017 4:38 a.m. PST

Would many wargames rules represent British cavalry as 'better' than the French in smaller actions, but at a disadvantage in larger ones?

Some do, normally choosing to tackle it as a command issue rather than a combat value issue. Of the ones I have some familiarity with:

Neil Thomas has (effectively) a "stupid British cavalry" rule, which gets them to do mad stuff. You could probably get the WRG 1685-1845 to work similarly by making sure all the British cavalry brigadiers are rated as Rash or Cautious.

Black Powder can do it, through giving French Cavalry brigadiers higher leadership values.

Polemos can do it through rating the French Divisional leaders higher.

GreenLeader18 Feb 2017 4:43 a.m. PST

Whirlwind

Many thanks for your response.

Forgive my stupidity, but would rating British cavalry brigadiers as rash and / or giving French ones higher leadership (as you suggest) translate into British cavalry outfighting the French when deployed in smaller units?

I am not familiar with the rules you mention, but it would strike me that by doing as you suggest, all one is doing is simply making the French cavalry better than the British, rather than addressing the issue I am raising? As I say, I have not played these rules, so might be totally wrong (as normal).

If the 'Stupid British Cavalry' rule you mention kicked if a player tried to coordinate a charge at greater than squadron strength, for example, I guess that would do the trick?

Whirlwind18 Feb 2017 5:37 a.m. PST

Forgive my stupidity, but would rating British cavalry brigadiers as rash and / or giving French ones higher leadership (as you suggest) translate into British cavalry outfighting the French when deployed in smaller units?

Yes, depending on what you think of as "outfight". Wellington doesn't say that the fighting qualities of the cavalry change – what he does say is that the lack of "order" causes him to think the French cavalry will win. So certain rules mechanisms relating to increasing the command values of the French should replicate what he is talking about.

I am not familiar with the rules you mention, but it would strike me that by doing as you suggest, all one is doing is simply making the French cavalry better than the British, rather than addressing the issue I am raising?

Not really. In Black Powder, by increasing the leadership rating rather than increasing the unit stats, you are explicitly making the French formation more likely to do more useful stuff – they don't get better at the 1:1 combat. In Polemos, if you were to rate the British Dragoons as "Veteran" but the French Dragoons as "Trained" the British would still be stronger unit for unit, but the French would be more likely to be doing more useful things as a formation, and rallying quicker during and after combat.

If the 'Stupid British Cavalry' rule you mention kicked if a player tried to coordinate a charge at greater than squadron strength, for example, I guess that would do the trick?

Yes. Like all of Neil Thomas' rules, it is super-simple, but it does create something of this effect.

foxweasel Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse18 Feb 2017 5:58 a.m. PST

The myth of German military supermen and super equipment raises its head again. YouTube link

Maggot Inactive Member18 Feb 2017 6:17 a.m. PST

Green Leader
I think your premise is a valid one, but the noticeable changes would depend on time/place.
Specifically your looking at overall doctrine vs. individual training. Say a modern MMA fighter faces off against your average well trained Western infantry soldier, unarmed. In most cases the MMA fighter likely wins. However, once armed and at the squad level, the MMA folks are hopelessly outclassed as they will not be as proficient with firearms, have no idea how to move under fire, have never trained in fire and maneuver, and lack the discipline to work as a team. But in ancient times, slave gladiators could give as good as they got in multiply higher formations (see Spartacus revolt) were the superiority in military doctrine was not apparent until you got to the large, multi-division level, hence time and place are a significant factor.
Also "better" had to be weighed on how a national army actually employed its doctrines. Both the US and German armies in WWII stressed aggressive maneuver, but German training at the individual level (every man a leader) was clearly better for much of the war, enabling German doctrine to be carried out closer to ideal (also see US Army in Okinawa compared to USMC doctrine and how they were actually enacted).
So, when applying those characteristics at a game level would really depend on time and place: in Bolt Action the rule allowing for NCO replacement is IMO a good one, as where in Hail Caesar the units of gladiators may have higher clash values, but lower sustained and much lower command values for their generals.


As edit: that German superiority at the small unit level was for the most gone by late 44 as Allied units in France had achieved parity in training at the lower levels- see US units in the Hurgten Forest (sp?). Remember British doctrine under Monty stressed slower movement for greater firepower, so we must not assume "better'," just minor differences in doctrine.

GreenLeader18 Feb 2017 6:17 a.m. PST

Whirlwind

That sounds like a very interesting way to handle this 'problem' – thanks indeed.

foxweasel

Not sure if that was aimed at me, but I don't think I was spreading that myth?

Murvihill18 Feb 2017 6:22 a.m. PST

National characteristics are based on doctrine and training. Individual soldiers may be more or less motivated, but that isn't a national characteristic necessarily. For example: The German Army in WW2 was trained to conduct counterattacks against lost positions as quickly as possible while the enemy was still disorganized from their success. Also, German tank tactics were well laid out and used in practice throughout the war, while the Russian 'hen and chicks' was used early in the war (not sure if later). The 'Time on top' artillery barrage would be a British and American national characteristic.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 7:53 a.m. PST

I'm going to whine and quibble about the great 1944 Germans, which is off the main point. Are we discussing the coastal defense divisions of Russian POWs--who were themselves sometimes people the Russians had captured? (We were picking up Koreans in Normandy: a souvenir of Khalkin-gol.) Do we mean the Luftwaffe field divisions? Or are we talking about the independent panzer brigades--kids who'd never trained as a brigade, and not much even as companies and battalions, with tank armor made of inferior metals, and drive trains sometimes sabotaged by slave laborers?

Yes, of course there were still good German units in 1944, just as there were good American, British, French and Soviet ones. There were also German units which would have had to train hard to be substandard. But somehow the rules rarely reflect this.

As for "national characteristics" generally, the consensus is right--individual training and weapons show as a factor at a different level than superior staff work. Also remember that "characteristics" are not the same thing as "superiorities." It's having certain equipment and organization, and being trained to do things in a certain way. If it becomes just "plus 1 for British" you may be working on the wrong level.

Martin Rapier18 Feb 2017 8:20 a.m. PST

"If an Israeli division is reasonably considered worth 2 Egyptian ones, and – as you suggest – a tank battalion similarly, when does this equation start balancing out?"

tbh you'd need to look at the relevant data from the level of actions you are interested in.

Did IDF platoons routinely outfight Egyptian ones? If so, you may wish to uprate IDF platoon leaders. Frankly, I have't got a clue as I tend to be intersted in the operation aspecst of 1967, not the tactical minutiae.

I was just using it as an example, based on empirical data.

At battalion level, British OR reports from 1944 NWE found that the main determinant of the outcome of battalion sized armoured engagements was numbers at the point of contact (modified for posture), however the Germans had a 20% edge whether attacking or defending.

WHY that is, I haven't got a clue (better tanks, smarter uniforms, a better developed combined arms doctrine?) but if you are trying to model the outcomes then it might be good idea to model that edge somehow. The brute force Panzerblitz approach is just to make the German units combat factors higher, the more subtle Spearhead approach is make Germans unit slightly more likely to be able to change their orders. The net result is the same.

The classic converse case is the cliche of the 1914 BEF, great battalions but appalling staff work at brigade level and above. So if you are doing battalion level actions, the poor old Germans are going to get shot flat, but if you are doing Division or Corps sized actions, maybe the BEF isn't such hot stuff and should labour under various command penalties.

But without any data, you are essentially just making this stuff up.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Feb 2017 9:18 a.m. PST

It seems to me there are a couple at work here:

(1) Unit quality. Naturally this varies from unit to unit at all levels. There are good squads and shitty squads. Good companies and mediocre ones, spiffing divisions and smelly ones. So we'd expect a good company of any nations to outfight a poor one.

(2) Army Doctrine: At various times one army has an advantage in training and doctrine. The Blitzkrieg is the poster child for this. A new tactic that needed completely different training that their enemies didn't have. This is harder to model in a game but requires command limitations. After all, in 1940 tank for tank French tanks were better. But German tactics and training were better and proved decisive.

(3) Equipment/Technology: Radar is one obvious example, giving Allied ships an advantage against the Japanese. A better tank confers an advantage. Lousy US torpedoes are a disadvantage. Etc.

Each of these is more or less important at various levels. Examples have been provided above.

As for OP's initial example, things are more fluid than he might assume. Air Superiority is critical at all levels. A "unit" of P47s can really ruin a German player's day whether he commands a platoon or a division.

Logistics also can be very important at all levels. A good unit that has been poorly supplied the last month will not fight as well. Etc.

Queen Catherine18 Feb 2017 6:23 p.m. PST

"It is common fare in wargames rules to designate some armies as better than others. What I am wondering about is, at what level/levels such difference are valid and worth representing."

Some answers have put forward to the OP. I think:

- they are valid of there is an historical argument for the difference to be made in the units present in the game. So if a platoon unit game, and my platoons are known for their outstanding maneuver training, I'd expect them to move faster, more responsively, and less vulnerably.

They are worth representing if they'll affect the decisions players will make with the units. So if savage natives fight better in woods players should make it a point to use them as avenues of approach. If they depend on firepower they need reasons to keep their limeys in the open. Etc.

Hope that helps.

monk2002uk18 Feb 2017 11:35 p.m. PST

Another concern about this debate is the quality of information about the 'other side'. My particular interest is in the Great War. For decades, the German army was described as 'Prussian' – full of automatons who blindly followed orders. A small group of us, including Jack Sheldon, argued against this on the Great War Forum. The vitriol that we experienced was quite extraordinary; evidence that the national stereotypes were deeply ingrained and passionately held. You can see these stereotypes expressing themselves in rulesets.

Another example from the Great War is the 'infiltration tactics' of Sturmtruppen. There is a huge amount of misinformation in the literature about this. Rulesets tend to express what appears in the secondary and tertiary literature, which is often misleading about 'national' characteristics. Martin has pointed to the more helpful types of analyses, which tend to focus on outcomes and then work backwards to understand causes, not that these analyses are always free from national bias.

Robert

uglyfatbloke Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 4:40 a.m. PST

There is a good deal of wishful thinking among wargamers generally…who does n't have their favourite army/formation/unit? It's part of why we do this in the first place and it can easily get tied in with nationalist sentiment or national/political sympathy quite unconsciously, let alone as a deliberate choice. Reliance on secondary and tertiary material is always risky because we can end up unwittingly embracing he preferences and prejudices of the writer. The fact that someone is moved to write a book on a topic will mostly mean that they have views on the protagonists, otherwise they would n't have become interested in the first place.
We take this 'as read' for primary sources, but there is often an expectation that a secondary source writer will have a degree of impartiality, especially is the writer is an academic. Also, academics often write books on topics that are well removed from their area of expertise and – bluntly – a great many academics write about conflict without bothering to make much study (if any) of how wars work and so they end up repeating old chestnuts.
Worse yet, they will endorse or ignore evidence that does not fit in with what they want to believe. Lots of TMP-ers will have seen this at first hand for themselves.

Blutarski19 Feb 2017 6:52 a.m. PST

Re uglyfatbloke's well put commentary on sources, I would add that certain strata of "official sources" must also be treated with care; propaganda has an extraordinarily long half-life.

My credo is to read widely, read all sides, approach the subject with suitable neutrality and keep my B/S meter well calibrated.

B

GreenLeader19 Feb 2017 7:02 a.m. PST

monk2002uk

Yes indeed: the deep emotional attachment that some people have for units / armies which were around decades before they were born is remarkable.
I got into a very heated email 'debate' with a South African who was utterly convinced that the Boers were uniformly expert horsemen, totally fearless, Olympic-standard marksmen imbued with a sixth-sense, and the ability to see in the dark and exist on a piece of biltong once a week. When I presented evidence which challenged this much-cherished stereotype / national myth, he was not exactly open-minded on the subject.

GreenLeader19 Feb 2017 7:16 a.m. PST

uglyfatbloke

100% agree.

Plus many of these academics seem to have never served in a uniform of any description, which – while not the be all and end all – I think makes a difference.

Just compare the insights that ex-servicemen like Gordon Corrigan or Michael Asher offer, compared to the nonsense spewed by the likes of Thomas Pakenham.

Just as I wouldn't put too much store in a cook book written by someone who has never been a chef, or a book on yachting written by someone who has never been on a boat, my personal approach is to treat military history by non-servicemen with a large degree of caution.

uglyfatbloke Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 12:21 p.m. PST

Yup; medievalists that can't ride a horse, can't read Latin/French and don't have any grasp of foot-drill are my particular bugbear, also journalists. On the up side there's Feargal Keane on Kohima on the downside there's Max Hastings on anything.

christot19 Feb 2017 12:25 p.m. PST

Or Andrew Roberts…. he did a hideous populist "what if" piece in the Sunday Telegraph today.
He is in my top 5 worst historians..make that top 3
(off topic rant over)
Sorry

Khusrau19 Feb 2017 1:10 p.m. PST

GreenLeader, I don't think your analogy holds up. Say for example you worked Motor Pool in a peace time army; how does that qualify you to discuss battlefield tactics in the Napoleonic Wars, or formations used by WW2 Armoured Companies?

In some respects, such experience might make you uniquely unfitted to write military history, as you are likely to assume and transpose non-analagous experience for the reality.

christot19 Feb 2017 1:20 p.m. PST

"Just as I wouldn't put too much store in a cook book written by someone who has never been a chef, or a book on yachting written by someone who has never been on a boat, my personal approach is to treat military history by non-servicemen with a large degree of caution."

Personally, with a lot (certainly not all) of military history, I'd take precisely the opposite view.

Blutarski19 Feb 2017 1:56 p.m. PST

Take this for what it's worth, but I have found that the best books on a given historical topic are sometimes the products of non-academic authors fanatically interested in their chosen field of interest. I would point out Martin Middlebrook ("First Day on the Somme"). Jon Parshall ("Shattered Sword") is another.

B

uglyfatbloke Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 2:39 p.m. PST

I think the response to all of these points ranges from….yeah, sometimes to…yeah, quite often.
Official histories should always be approached with some caution;people's careers and the reputation of the army are at stake and often the official historian has no idea of practical historical methodology so they often end up being uncritical narratives with little to no useful analysis.

Non-academic authors with a passion can be great – Middlebrook is a good example (some people just have a natural historiographical talent), but there are some very dodgy ones too.
Soldier's memoirs can be great, they can sometimes be appallingly bad and full of 'ain't we great'…Ron Kent's 'First In' for example. Like everyone else they are also subjective (and not on oath) about their experience…Band of Brothers does not entirely agree with accounts from other members of Easy Coy.

Soldier's accounts of wars that they did not take part in tend to be overshadowed by their own first-hand experience which may or may not have any validity.

Academics? Well, very few will ever bother to read a war theory text book or a training manual, so that's not a good start and a great many are driven by ideological sentiments which can and do cloud their vision, so that's pretty bad too.

Political memoirs are, broadly speaking, vile. There's always a career/legacy agenda to consider and opponents/rivals to be discredited…Lloyd George is hard to beat for sheer mendacity.

TV personality vehicles are, IMO, the absolute pits. Those that are hosted by a 'historian ' – invariably one who has done no peer-reviewed work, just a degree – are no better than those by comedians and oft-times not as good; a comedian at least has to have some empathetic insight or they'd be rubbish comedians.
There you go; I'd guess I've now offended pretty much the whole world.

RudyNelson19 Feb 2017 9:15 p.m. PST

National characteristics is a significant factor in designing realistic gaming system. Less important if you do not mind giving up realism for a faster playing system.
Tanks have organic.national traits in both their armor factors and gun abilities.
Back in 1981 when we designed Fire! Goon! Feuer! We had national characteristic factors in several areas. Scenario location, time of year, campaign year, chance to be attacker, artillery response time, gun deviation, aircraft availability, etc.

John Thomas8 Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 9:16 p.m. PST

I don't think you can write a set of rules that cover a "national characteristic" with a blanket. Not all of anything was one way. For example, at one point 1940 Fallschirmjäger units were "almost supermen" and by Italy in 1944, Fallschirmjäger formations were gatherings of warm bodies. The former are superior and the latter barely functional. I think "national characteristics" have to be assigned at the time the scenario is developed.

YMMV.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member20 Feb 2017 12:29 a.m. PST

I always think it's very funny that some people feel they can judge the quality of the work of others, thereby implictly promoting themselves to the rank of superexpert on the topic.

Especially when these superexperts have only read the works of others – not even original sources, and have never done original research themselves.

Having served in whatever army does not make you an expert on military history, just as having worked in a company does not make you an expert economist. But it might give you some extra street cred to sell more books.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member20 Feb 2017 12:36 a.m. PST

There is a good deal of wishful thinking among wargamers generally…who does n't have their favourite army/formation/unit?

When we played Russian Campaign (Avalon Hill) as teenagers, we were so impressed by the fact that Waffen SS units had their own black-coloured counters – they must have been superunits!
Even now I still encounter wargamers whose view on the Waffen SS divisions goes back to those black counters in Russian Campaign.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member20 Feb 2017 12:38 a.m. PST

Another concern about this debate is the quality of information about the 'other side'. My particular interest is in the Great War. For decades, the German army was described as 'Prussian' – full of automatons who blindly followed orders. A small group of us, including Jack Sheldon, argued against this on the Great War Forum. The vitriol that we experienced was quite extraordinary; evidence that the national stereotypes were deeply ingrained and passionately held. You can see these stereotypes expressing themselves in rulesets.

Let's not even start discussing colonial wargaming ;-)

Andy ONeill20 Feb 2017 12:53 a.m. PST

I suppose if you've not ridden a horse then it might not occur to you that they won't run into people. Presenting a bit of a problem for knights charging steady close order infantry ( pretty much a wall as far as a horse is concerned ).
There again if you don't read up on the subject you might think that knights rode war horses on campaign ( they preferred nimbler cheaper mounts ).
Basically, jousting one on one meant one set of kit and campaigning another.
It would be great if you somehow magicked up some middle ages knight who could explain exactly how battles worked.
But could they so do in the terms we wargamers want?
Or would they get a load of "facts" wrong and bias their accounts? Bias isn't even necessarily conscious.

Moving to more recent times.
There are certain practicalities if you're going to insist all ww2 historians should have served in ww2 and seen action. Like finding any that are still alive.

But do you need to have been a veteran ss soldier in order to understand their effectiveness?
I wonder what they might attribute their success to.
National socialist fervour?
Natural superiority?
Or…
Looser task orientated orders and more automatic weapons.

GreenLeader20 Feb 2017 4:06 a.m. PST

I think some have missed the caveat that I included in the statement:

Plus many of these academics seem to have never served in a uniform of any description, which – while not the be all and end all – I think makes a difference

I fully agree there are exceptions to the rule, but I also think someone who has first hand experience of how soldiers think / act / behave can offer something that others cannot. You are more than welcome to disagree.

christot20 Feb 2017 6:44 a.m. PST

"I fully agree there are exceptions to the rule, but I also think someone who has first hand experience of how soldiers think / act / behave can offer something that others cannot. You are more than welcome to disagree."

It largely depends on what exactly they are commenting on..In the above medieval example its actually pretty irrelevant whether someone was/is a serving soldier..much more important to have some practical experience (like horsemanship) or in-depth archeological knowledge. How a modern army works has absolutely no bearing.
Even with more modern conflicts its possible that more current military experience can be as much as a hindrance as a help, for example, someone who has served in a modern, professional army who takes their experience and transposes it onto a WWII conscript one, without understanding how utterly different they are both militarily and sociologically to the late 20th/early 21st century

uglyfatbloke Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2017 10:08 a.m. PST

Spot-on Christot.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2017 11:36 a.m. PST

National Characteristics can mean a number of things:

1. Different ethnic beliefs and behaviors in battle
2. Different troop training, organization and tactics
3. The stereotype the nation propagates and presents to the world or
4. The stereotype believed by the world regardless.

The first three can be pertinent to how a nation's army fought, the fourth simply muddies the waters.

I think the more-or-less, superhuman-below normal approach to National Characteristics is not only one-dimensional, but ends up comparing apples and oranges.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2017 11:47 a.m. PST

I fully agree there are exceptions to the rule, but I also think someone who has first hand experience of how soldiers think / act / behave can offer something that others cannot. You are more than welcome to disagree.

Green Leader:

I agree the experience of a present-day soldier can offer unique insights. From talking to my friends and acquaintances who have been in the military and combat, there is a tendency to make those comparisons between combat now and in the past apply too liberally.

A Napoleonic soldier moved and stood elbow-to-elbow to their comrades, usually fighting within 100 yards of the enemy, who was also standing. Their experience of combat, their responsibilities and options were far more narrow, far different than today's soldiers. Officers were often of a separate class, standing outside the 'rank-in-file' physically, socially, and intellectually. Their idea of "professional soldier" was quite different if not anathema to their class. "Patriotism" had a very different meaning during the Napoleonic period. Enlistment for most foot soldiers was 'for life' from England to Russia.

The motivations and 'how soldiers think' could be very different. Any comparisons between the experiences of soldiers today and say the Napoleonic wars would have to take those very radical differences into account to be very meaningful.

UshCha Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2017 12:47 p.m. PST

In the end what is the simulation aimed at. In the Atab Istali wars of 1967 it is said that the basic grunt often fought well but his seniors has run of on numerous occations. Do you want to play as the real thing where the Eygption commqanders run off, or where thet stayed. Or to see what might have been trhe case if the eygiptions were more often well lead. National characteristics ane not national rhey are very varied and are proably more indiviual based than national.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2017 10:36 p.m. PST

National characteristics ane not national rhey are very varied and are proably more indiviual based than national.

There are a lot of military men, from the 19th Century to the Present that would disagree with you, depending on how you define 'national.'

I can give a lot of examples right up to General McMasters.

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