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"Do you use infantry formations?" Topic


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Comments or corrections?

UshCha Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2017 1:13 p.m. PST

We were playing a game a few days ago. In the post game chat a number of things came up.

On one occasion the infantry unit with ICV's was in line. It proably would have been best in echelon left. With the AFV'S buttoned up, infantry sheltering on the left side of the vehicle. Echelon left would have let the AFV'S cover a wider area of the key terrain and stay buttoned up. Do you use this sort of formation and do your rules allow it?

Similarly tanks need to sometimes have some eyes behind to support infantry if surprised after the vehicles have passes a point.

I guess if your scenarios do not cover this sort of action maybe you never need too.

UshCha Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2017 1:13 p.m. PST

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UshCha Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2017 1:14 p.m. PST

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Tgunner Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2017 1:29 p.m. PST

I use stuff like that in Team Yankee.

It's mostly an armor facing and arc of fire thing and doesn't require any special rules. Once I used a herringbone formation when I deployed a tank platoon off a road so I could engage two Soviet tank companies. The herringbone allowed two tanks to engage each Soviet company and kept front armor facing each. It worked okay.

I've been known to use wedge, echelon left and right, and line abreast formations too. They just make sense in games of this scale: as in 1:1 vehicle actions.

afilter Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2017 1:34 p.m. PST

27 years and counting in the Army, so yes I use formations. :)

Not required in the rules, but tactically makes sense and as mentioned above can give you an advantage offensively or defensively which is why they exist.

Joes Shop Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2017 1:50 p.m. PST

Yes.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2017 1:58 p.m. PST

We've used various formations in Striker, both for ground vehicles and infantry (echelon, column, line abreast are probably the most often used).

Striker is GDW's game of company to battalion ground combat in the Traveller universe. Troops and vehicles are represented 1:1. The game rules contemplate 15mm scale, but we found 1:285 or 1:300 with map scale set forth in the rules looked and felt better.

There is no special rule for formations in Striker, and I think a good set of rules shouldn't need a special rule. The formation is used because it confers some kind of advantage, such as more units able to engage the same target. That should arise naturally out of the rules (particularly the weapons range rules).

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2017 2:50 p.m. PST

Yes

Joe

Legion 414 Nov 2017 3:48 p.m. PST

Of course I use Infantry. Anything on the battlefield[or gaming table/board] should take advantage of any or all cover & concealment available. Use terrain masking/cover/concealment, regardless of the formation you are trying to maintain. If any of the AFVs in the formation are not in cover for the sake of maintaining formation for too long. That could make them a target in the open. And rapidly could be hit/killed.

The Grunt or Tanker wants to get something solid enough to stop any/all of the flying objects that occur on the battlefield, AFAIK.

But something I've see gamers do, is use their carriers for cover from direct fire as "SOP". NO … that is generally not how it is done. If you lose your carrier, you lose your mobility. And a modicum of protection that it provides.

Yes, when dismounting the carrier provides some cover. But if it is done "properly". The carriers move behind a covered and/or concealed position/location. Then the troops dismount.

And both the carrier and dismounts are under cover. Plus in some cases the carrier's weapon(s) provides suppressive/covering fire from that location. To support the dismounts.

Now of course in an urban or even open terrain. The dismounts may have no choice but to move/hide behind/along side, etc. of their APC/IFV/ICV. But that is not generally the "desired" use of those vehicles. However as afilter noted, "tactically makes sense and as mentioned above can give you an advantage offensively or defensively which is why they exist." … I.e. provide a [modicum] of cover.

The dismounts don't want to stay behind the vehicle too long if at all possible. As both present a "nice" big target for the enemy.

When I was a Mech[M113] Co Cdr., '87-'89. It was SOP to dismount and spread out away from the carrier. If there was a halt for anything but a short amount of time. If the tactical situation [and terrain] allowed it and was applicable. For all the reasons I mentioned.

Now I realize the M2 Bradley IFV and Stryker ICV are different as well as superior to the M113. In many ways. But in all cases, there are a lot of weapons on the battlefield that could easily destroy those IFVs/ICVs … As those weapons could kill an M113 and everybody inside just as easily.

Personal logo Bashytubits Supporting Member of TMP14 Nov 2017 4:52 p.m. PST

Like this?

Legion 415 Nov 2017 7:36 a.m. PST

huh?

UshCha Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2017 8:05 a.m. PST

It's interesting that so many of you do. Most rules (Wolfhag's being one of the exceptions), seem not to have much on observation restrictions, many seem not to even differentiate between un-buttoned and buttoned up. Buttoning up makes it more important to have formations as the arc of best observation is limited, with infantry folk seem even less inclined to adopt formations. Even with our rules denoting say Echalon right is tricky. You can angle the troop base but direction of travel then needs to be denoted by the marker. Having said that direction of travel is not a key issue. How do you make it.

Now formations are similalay critical even at company level so how do you depict it when one base represents a platoon?

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2017 12:59 p.m. PST

UshCha,
What you are talking about makes total sense depending on the scale and time frame of the game. Manoeuvre Group takes the right approach to the scale and time frame you are using.

My timeframe and scale are similar to yours so I can duplicate the 1:1 vehicle formations and attached infantry.

Since I use the timing of an action to determine when an action takes place or activates Situational Awareness plays a greater part than in games with a structured sequence or random activations. In those systems, and depending on scale, the factors I use would be outside of the game.

However, in general, the grunts tried to avoid large targets like tanks. They attract a lot of attention from mortars and machine guns. This happened on the first day at Tarawa. Two tanks successfully came ashore on Red Beach 3 but attracted heavy mortar fire and the grunts on the beach had nowhere to hide. Major Crowe had no choice but to send the Sherman tanks inland to attack on their own without infantry support.

On the second day on Red Beach 1, the Marines had a secure piece of the island and one Sherman. They were able to flank the Jap defenses on Green Beach and with a single Sherman supported by infantry they rolled up the defenses to the other end of the island. Totally different tactical situation.

I don't have any real direct experience with them other than riding on the back of an M-48 a few times and being knocked down by the muzzle blast of a 90mm gun one night when I got too to close to it in a war game.

Wolfhag

Legion 415 Nov 2017 1:22 p.m. PST

We do 1/285-1/300. Infantry is basically on a 3-5 man Fire Tm per stand. And AFVs are individual. We fight/play Company/Company Tm ops up to Bn TF.
We see like many others do, that the Infantry stand can see 360 degrees. Based on terrain/LOS.

We do AFVs the same way. Which works well for that scale.
As a TC can button or unbutton fairly quickly. Whether MBT, APC, etc. "Been there, done that, got the T-shirt". wink So again in this scale LOS/LOF/FOF is generally 360. Based on terrain.

Infantry does not "unbutton", etc.[I think we all know that] … they are either mounted of dismounted.

They can be mounted in a completely armored APC/IFV/ICV.

Or ride on the rear deck etc. of an MBT, etc.

Or based on the era and AFV in an opened top vehicle.

infantry folk seem even less inclined to adopt formations.
Yes, I think we talked about this before a while back. The Grunt is not generally concerned about "formations" in the field. Just Cover & Concealment basically.

And most Tankers I've worked with as I my Mech Co. was frequently cross-attached to a Tank Bn. The tanks usually are more concerned about cover & concealment as well.

Now in open terrain, e.g. the desert, formations for AFVs are a little bit more of a concern, when moving mostly. As the formation can give a modicum of protection, and good LOS/FOF based on the known or suspected enemy location(s)…

, in general, the grunts tried to avoid large targets like tanks.
Yep … damn things draw fire ! wink

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP15 Nov 2017 2:48 p.m. PST

Regarding my experience with formations. We tried to keep it simple.

A platoon going across an open field would have two squads advancing in a Vee formation with the third squad deployed in overwatch.

Moving on roads or through woods was a column formation. If expecting contact in the woods we deployed in a line/skirmish formation and movement was extremely slow and noisy.

When moving in column through the woods you had the point man have a ready signal for responding to contact. If we detected them first we'd signal for a hasty ambush with the front two squads deploying from column into a line. The last squad is the maneuver element. The LT makes the decision when to send them in. The point man had two hand signals one to signal a hasty ambush and the point to the direction to hit them with. This was normally a PFC or Lance Corporal making the decision because there was no time to discuss the options.

If we were in over our head the front squad leader would pop smoke, that signalled the two rear squads we were breaking contact. The front squad lays down some suppressive fire and toss a grenade or two and then pulls back. We'd leapfrog back squad by squad like that. The platoon leader would re-evaluate the situation and we might maneuver to counterattack them from the flank letting them advance into an ambush. You could do that by breaking off one squad to maneuver around behind them while the other two leap frogged keeping the enemy attention.

These were prepared and drilled actions no one needed to be "activated". The key to success was that we had VN vets as squad leaders.

These actions and tactics are hard to simulate in a game.

Wolfhag

UshCha Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2017 1:23 a.m. PST

Legion 4, my reading of accounts is different to yours. In the 6 day war the Israelis surprised Egyiption tanks from the rear indicating 360 deg awareness is difficult. Similarly two challengers collided in broad daylight indicateing full 360 awareness is not possible. In addition tank engagements are very short. Having the gun pointing in the wrong direction is bad news. Allowing 360 vision for tanks can allow impossible traverse rates so that the guy pointing in the right direction does not get his just reward.

With infantry I do allow 360 vision, lots more eyes. However I do not allow firing. The infantry need to deploy/sort out for an alternate fire arc to avoid friendly fire.

I would be interested in your thoughts.

Interesting that the military manu a ls cover formations above platoon but do not seem to be accounted for in wargames.

Legion 416 Nov 2017 7:36 a.m. PST

UshCha, I understand what you are saying. But I'm saying in the scale that we play we don't take that into consideration. All AFVs have a 360 … But … can they get their main gun to engage the target fast enough to not be KO'd ? As you alluded to.
The Egyptians in that case … well someone may have seen the IDF. BUT again could they rotate their turrets fast enough to engage ? Of course that is another reason why a flanking attack is so effective. Plus the IDF was superior in fieldcraft, etc. Like using "Sagger Watch", etc. …

And as far as the Challengers … We would chalk that up to "Bleeped text" happens. I've served in 3 Mech Bns and was often crossed attached to a Tank Bn. I've never seen or heard of such a thing. Now, I was not there when the Challengers played bump cars. But what comes to mind.

How experienced was the crew, primarily the TC & Driver ?

What type of terrain, what was the time of day or what were the weather condition ?

I've stood next to a Canadian Leo MBT on a very dark, wet, cold night in W. Germany. Thought I was between a couple of buildings on the edge of a village. Didn't see/know that was a Leo until I touched the it. huh?

In the mountains of Wildflecken in W. Germany, the fog did not lift until about 1100 hours. Otherwise you can barely see a few yards in front of you. Let alone drive any vehicle without care and/or having Ground Guide a short distance in front of you. Turning on your lights in that situation only may make things worse.

Note you see many times an AFV flying a little bright colored flag on top one of it's antenna. E.g. in the desert if it is behind a sand dune/slight ridge, etc. One of the other AFVs in that unit can see him/the little flag. If he is turret down. So they don't collide, etc.

My take on SitAwar may be different that yours or others.

E.g. Real world examples I've seen In the thick forest of upper state NY/Ft. Drum. A US ARMY M60 MBT ran over the front of an Army CUCV[pick up truck] along a T-intersection of a fire break. I guess because of the dense foliage neither could see the other.

While at Desert Warfare training at Ft. Irwin CA. The M60s of the Tank Bn my Mech Co. was attached to were live firing their 105s. They deployed in a "Lazy W" formation. I.e. imagine the M60s positioned with a tank at each end of the legs of the "W". With the legs being widely spread.

One on the M60s at the lower end of the leg somehow mistook one of the other M60s at the top of the leg as a target. He fired hitting the M60 ahead of him. Hitting the "target" in the rear hull/engine.
Fortunately the M60's fire prevention system engaged. And no further damage was done. BTW, 4 hours later that KO'd M60 was repaired and FMC.

So in both the incidents what did terrain and or crew experience ? Truth is I don't know. But again with all the variables with combat or even training for combat, we see that as "Bleeped text" happens. [And of whatever caused the "frakk up" would be "fixed if possible.]

Again I totally agree with what Wolfhag posted. We were both Grunts in our past military service.

With infantry I do allow 360 vision, lots more eyes. However I do not allow firing. The infantry need to deploy/sort out for an alternate fire arc to avoid friendly fire.
Yes, I see … How long is a game turn ? That will be a determining factor.

A well trained/experienced Infantry unit can deploy and engage very quickly. As Wolfhag stated with having VN Vets in the unit. When deploying, ID'ing friendlies, etc., etc.

Note there are many variables that come into play. Some which can't really be done in a war game on a gaming board. But of course some can if the rules are well researched, well written, etc.

Now … Are your Infantrymen moving in the a defensive position or going in the assault ?

FOFs Primary, Alternate and Supplemental are normally assigned once a unit is in position. When setting up a defense.

In the assault, TLs, SLs, etc. will rapidly assign where to fire as needed. On the move, bounding, going into overwatch, etc. And in many cases the direction of enemy fire determines that. Where to return fire without a leader telling you where to fire/return fire.

For gaming purposes, IMO as long as an Infantry unit, i.e. Fire Tm, Sqd, etc. has a clear FOF/LOS. They should be able to fire. Of course you can't fire thru a friendly unit, just like in the real world. Although that has had to occur in some situations, however those are rare and very extreme circumstances.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2017 9:28 a.m. PST

I'd just like to comment on the 360 degree Situational Awareness concept.

I think SA means you have the capability and potential to notice activity in 360 degrees but it is not guaranteed you'll notice and react at the moment the threat appears. That's what it means to me. Your definition can be different.

SA is always best in your front 90 degrees, less so in your peripheral vision taking up the other 90 degrees of your front 180-degree vision. You are basically blind in the rear 180 degrees behind you unless you swivel your head around or happen to check behind you once in awhile. That's all hard to duplicate that randomness in a game.

Example: In my son's first firefight they were clearing rooms in a pretty intense engagement sometimes exchanging fire with bad guys in the same room. His squad leader told him to watch a murder hole at the end of a hallway. He said he had "tunnel vision" on that hole ready to put rounds through it if someone appeared. After a minute or so he heard a double tap from behind him and an AK rattled across the floor and a bad guy with half of his head shot away fell almost on top of him. He had just come around the corner and my son didn't notice him even though the bad guy was in his LOS. Fortunately, his squad leader was in an "overwatch" position to cover him. That's teamwork. However, if anyone popped their head into that murder hole they would have been dead. Good SA to the front, blind in the rear.

IF he had been looking in that direction and swivelling his head he may have seen him. If he had more experience he may have done that but he would be given a "green" rating in a game. To top it off he had been shot and had a collapsed lung and was light headed but in the adrenaline-filled moment, he wasn't aware of it until the engagement was over.

One way to look at 360-degree awareness is how many "attention units" are you putting into your 360-degree awareness zone and you are basically blind in your rear 180 degrees. If you are swivelling your head around all of the time like a fighter pilot you are dividing up those "attention units" increasing your awareness throughout the 360 degrees BUT you may miss a threat behind you giving them a few seconds of the initiative to shoot first. You never have perfect awareness unless you have multiple crew members assigned to cover all arcs. That's basically why formations are used and I think what UshCha is talking about. In a small unit engagement, usig teams of individual figures unit formations are extremely important in determining reaction and initiative.

Supposedly in WWII 80% of the planes shot down the pilot never saw the enemy aircraft that downed them. That could be mostly true in a tank-tank and infantry engagement too.

So I play it as you have the "awareness" and a chance to react to any threat in 360 degrees but situations like being suppressed, buttoned up or the threat in your flank or rear mean a likely variable delay in game turns in spotting and reacting to them. That makes it much harder to sneak up on a deployed unsuppressed infantry squad and easier on a buttoned-up vehicle. A suppressed infantry unit will most likely have a delay to react allowing a fire and maneuver to be successful against them.

The bottom line is like what Legion said. The time and unit scale you are using will determine how much detail and rules you'll use. Some situations will leave you blind in all or part of that 360 degrees like being in a fog.

My system would be ridiculous and unplayable with platoon stands and game turns longer than one minute as there are other factors that come into play at that scale.

Wolfhag

UshCha Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2017 9:46 a.m. PST

Again I was going by the US manuals that define fields of fire for the various formations. Hence Echalon left for forward and left. V for full forward but some left and right.

For bound time, I subscribe to the Phil Barker school. What we model does not cover lots of things like communication and observation time. So we call a bound about 10 minutes. However there is, let's call it a sub bound, where for instance the time is Very roughly 7 to 15 seconds. Most tanks have won,or are dead at close range or have bugged out in about about a minute. So typicaly a bound has about a minute or so of fevered activity.

Regarding tanks if you account for turret traverseing then 360 deg view is not too much of a problem, you get a gain for having the turret in the right position so the model does not fall down horribly.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2017 11:29 a.m. PST

Ushcha,
From what you stated and my memory of your rules you seem to have it right for the scale and system you are using.

However, have you considered the command element of a platoon? While a platoon may be in echelon and V advancing and observing in their assigned sectors a command element composed of a platoon leader, platoon sergeant, radioman and corpsman also can observe. It may also have an FO and another observer attached. They are generally positioned in a central location to the rest of the platoon and do not have an assigned formation or observation sector. They are more or less randomly "milling around" (similar to swivelling your head around) and can be assigned to rear security. Also advancing in a column, especially in the wooded and urban environment, the rear person in the column is assigned rear security. Tanks can also advance in a diamond with the rear tank having its turret pointed to the rear.

Wolfhag

Legion 416 Nov 2017 2:42 p.m. PST

I think SA means you have the capability and potential to notice activity in 360 degrees but it is not guaranteed you'll notice and react at the moment the threat appears. That's what it means to me.
That is the way I see it. And that is why I use 360 from AFVs as well as Infantry.

Like I said, I was in 3 Mech Bns, and commanded an M113 Mech Co. So I've been in a TC hatch more than a few times. So just file that under practical experience.

The bottom line is like what Legion said. The time and unit scale you are using will determine how much detail and rules you'll use. Some situations will leave you blind in all or part of that 360 degrees like being in a fog.
Yep !

SA as noted is also a function of good training, fieldcraft, etc. E.g. I'm betting the Egyptian Armor in that 6 Day War battle. Probably were no where near as skilled as the IDF MBT crews But again, I was not there. But again my $$$ is on the IDF in any battle.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2017 3:29 p.m. PST

Legion,
While the M60 did have some weaknesses it had some great SA advantages in the desert against the Egyptians. Many encounters were against dug in hull down T-55's. This put the TC's head barely above ground level when unbuttoned with dust and the mirage giving the biggest problem in SA.

The M60 being tall, with a cupola and a TC standing tall with binoculars has a great SA advantage. When the T-55 fires the muzzle blast, being a foot or so above the ground, kicks up enough dust that the TC can't sense the tracer to make a correction. The gunner must have had a hard time acquiring and aiming at a target too.

The M60, riding high does not encounter that as badly.

Just a note on the mirage in the desert. I read about an engagement of an Israeli tank that had numerous Saggers fired at it. When the battle was over the TC surveyed the tank and it had about a dozen Sagger control wires draped over the tank. The only explanation was the mirage presented a visual target that was a high enough that the Sagger gunners thought they were hitting but were going over the tank and through the mirage image.

Wolfhag

SouthernPhantom16 Nov 2017 4:08 p.m. PST

Wolfhag, your practical experience with infantry formations largely mirrors mine. They all go out the window after contact, at which point it's time to come on skirmish line and bound up to kick their teeth in!

In bad terrain, effective command and control of a team is very challenging, especially when trying to remain undetected. Giving all team members radios eases this somewhat, but introduces its own challenges.

As I see it, a lot of the challenges inherent in infantry work are completely glossed over by most wargames. Some sort of "friction" mechanic is essential; you will virtually always be slowed down by equipment failures, bad comms, rough terrain, or lack of experience at some level. I've fiddled with writing some rules that seem to come a bit closer.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2017 7:22 p.m. PST

Great conversation. I was never a combat company CO. I was a combat Platoon Leader but then got smart and switched to the Air Force! That said all makes sense to me.
SP agree with your thoughts. Question becomes playability. The older I get the simpler I want my rules. 10 years ago I wanted to model much of what everyone here is talking about. It was "important". I skirmish so played and "improved upon" Troops weapons and Tactics which I still think is the most realistic game out there. ( with my mods of course which Rich was nice enough to publish). Problem was it was like a combat problem instead of a game.
that is what I like about Force on Force. You have a quality rating. you roll to hit it. If you miss then you failed. Why? Maybe you weren't looking? Maybe bad coms? Maybe guns jammed? I don't know but modeled and simple. have I modified parts? Of course and the armor rules are a bit too forgiving but it is simple and gives plausible results. The older I get simple is better.
My opinion anyway.
Thanks for the thread.

Joe

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2017 11:19 p.m. PST

Joe,
My career was the opposite of yours. I started out in an officer training program in college and passed my pilots test but then opted for the infantry. Just as well as it turned out I was too tall to fit into a Phantom or A-4 Skyhawk.

There is that old saying, "Reality sucks" which I guess holds true in game design. I'm a senior citizen and don't want anything too challenging either.

I'm working on infantry rules that are based on the manual including formations like UshCha does that brings out the details and flavor I can relate to in my experiences. It focuses more on small unit leadership risk-reward decisions and tactics that can increase the chances of success in an engagement. I've gotten away from the minutia of firepower and a host of die roll modifiers.

Basically, attacker volume of fire versus defensive posture gives a causality percentage. One die roll determines the number of causalities and suppression. Orders to fall back are automatically obeyed (survival instinct) and once out of enemy LOS, the unit recovers from suppression effects. The results are based on some British War Office papers tweaked a little so that units fall back before they are eliminated. It gives a good feel for the ebb and flow of battle and rewards players for using real tactics that are not just die roll modifiers. The timing aspect gives a good interaction of fire and movement and opportunity fire.

To move under fire a unit needs to pass an Aggressiveness Check but leadership and motivation can increase the chance of success. A coordinated Fire & Maneuver allows better aggressiveness for the maneuver element. Target suppression allows the maneuver element a better chance of crossing terrain without taking causalities. However, each time a leader is called upon to help he takes a causality check. Use them wisely. Good leadership can make poor units perform better. Better units need less leadership influence. That's how I see it anyhow.

Wolfhag

Legion 417 Nov 2017 7:54 a.m. PST

Damn ! Just tried to post and the TMP Bug made it disappear !!!! frown But basically, I added some comments that agree with all that you all just posted ! thumbs up

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2017 2:36 p.m. PST

Wolfhag,
Always wanted to fly in a phantom! I switched because the AF offered to send me to medical school; too good a deal to pass up. Combat MP or Orthopaedic surgeon? Choice was easy. Was a flight surgeon for several years with C 141s and F 15s.
Agree with all you are looking for. Guess I am too lazy to write my own so am modifying FoF. Basically there are 3 levels of leaders. Poor leaders subtract 1 from their reaction roll and 1 die from morale. Good leaders… even an army guy can figure out what comes next! This way the platoon commander knows the morale of his squads/fireteams and the effectiveness of his leaders and divides tasks accordingly.
link
Legion don't follow the link as my NCO used his track as cover when crossing the street! Kevin, don't use the link as my tanks did not fight in tandem but were parceled out to each squad. ( I also told yo I never have more than 4 vehicles on the board at any one time.) Hey it worked and was fun.

Joe

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