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"Line of sight and communication." Topic


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586 hits since 30 Oct 2018
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Comments or corrections?

UshCha30 Oct 2018 9:47 a.m. PST

In the cold war where radios were less common at the lowest level I was told by a platoon commander that he situated himself somewhere in the middle of the platoon so he could intervene as and when needed.

So come to radio fitted troops and tanks, how important was/is it to have a visual on his platoon, or even if operating at that level the company commnder.

Being as we are looking at Issue 2 of the rules there are some opportunities to improve.

One thing that has become obvious is that the rules allow commanders with radios to remain out of sight and "safe". The question is, at the lower levels like company, is it helpful for the commander to see the element he is communication with, things like having common landmarks to orient themselves on. The object of the discussion is to see if there is need for higher elements to perhaps be slightly closer to the action to enhance command and control.

No for the "Rules Light" brigade I appreciate that this is irrelevant, so please do not sully the reponses with daft replies like who cares.

Rich Bliss30 Oct 2018 9:59 a.m. PST

I think that, until the advent of body cameras and real-time satellite links, it's going to be a significant advantage for commanders to have "eyes on" situations

Legion 430 Oct 2018 3:47 p.m. PST

Plt Ldrs and even Sqd Ldrs have radios of some type. And the Co. Cdr can be contacted by the Plt Ldrs. Then in turn the Co. Cdr will contact the Bn Cdr/S3, etc., etc.

LOS with sub elements of your command is not always the case based on terrain, time of day, weather, etc.. E.g. in the jungle, forest, urban, low light/darkness, etc. Generally you didn't see all the sub element you were talking to on the radio …

himself somewhere in the middle of the platoon so he could intervene as and when needed.
Yes, if the terrain allows it. When a Plt moves using the formations Traveling/Overwatch, Bounding/Overwatch, Column/ Ranger File, etc., etc. the Plt Ldr would generally be in between the lead element and 2d element. But sometimes the Plt Ldr would be up front with the lead element. Depending on again, the terrain and situation.

The question is, at the lower levels like company, is it helpful for the commander to see the element he is communication with, things like having common landmarks to orient themselves on.
It would be nice at times. But in modern warfare you generally don't move in the open. You are behind cover & concealment. And you try not to be in the open. At least not for very long, if at all.

And again, in closed and mixed terrain, e.g. again jungle, forests, urban, darkness, etc., you may only be able to see a few feet to a few yards in front of you. But the sub elements in your command can see things you can't. Even if you can't see them.

And you can see common landmarks on the map. All leaders have maps. And many key land marks will have a code name or number. E.g Check Point One Zero, TF Blue, etc., generally. So if the enemy is listening you don't give your or other elements in the unit's location(s) away, etc.

Been there … done that. As Rifle Plt Ldr and later Mech Co Cdr … old fart

Lion in the Stars30 Oct 2018 5:34 p.m. PST

I don't know that it is helpful enough to have a game bonus for being in LOS of your platoon or a rule requiring such.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP30 Oct 2018 10:27 p.m. PST

LOS could help increase radio reception but at the company level, I'm not sure how much this would matter.

I was the platoon radio man for a while (early 1970's) with a PRC-25 with a range 3 miles short antenna and 5 miles with the whip antenna operating mostly in flat, medium density woods on the coast. You had to remain stationary with the whip antenna as it was about 7 feet high.

Rarely was the platoon leader in LOS with any squad. We normally did not have a problem keeping in touch with the CO. Most of the time squads did not have a radio but I do recall having to relay transmissions to other platoons that were out of touch, probably no more than 300-400 yards away. We would never talk to battalion or regiment so we didn't need a long-range radio.

Normally the Platoon Sergeant made the rounds or the Platoon CP would have a meeting with the squad leaders. The Platoon Leader did try to stay centralized to the platoon so he could get to any squad quickly – but we are talking about less than 100 yards away.

Personally, I think the Platoon Leader or CO would be more effective if he had LOS to the enemy and not just the units he's ordering around. In any kind of woods or built up area having LOS to a squad would normally mean attaching himself to them, depending on elevation terrain of course. If in LOS in an open area we'd use arm and hand signals.

I hope this helps.

Wolfhag

Legion 431 Oct 2018 1:40 a.m. PST

I don't know that it is helpful enough to have a game bonus for being in LOS of your platoon or a rule requiring such.
Agreed … modern armies primarily use radios to communicate. LOS as I said is not always available. Short answer – No rule for LOS for command bonus.

Yes, some terrain can block radio transmissions. E.g.:

"You're coming in broken and distorted … over …"

"Moving to another location, stay by … over …"

And when we could, and had LOS we'd use hand & arm signals. Mostly used between Fire Teams, Squads and Plt HQ. Many militaries do that. Part of the reason for hand & arm signals is keeping talking/noise down to next nothing. Part of Fieldcraft is noises & light discipline. You don't want to be seen or heard. Until you open fire, etc.

Dynaman878931 Oct 2018 6:08 a.m. PST

There is nothing that can replace having your own eyes on the situation. It stops a whole range of miscommunication from occurring. A platoon commander is the highest level of command where that would probably be possible in a WW2 or later environment unless fighting in the desert or some really open place and if in a city forget it.

If the game has fubar tables to cover command misrepresentation or activation rules I would give a bonus to commanders with eyes on the situation – with a sliding scale for troops trained to operate with radio communication and it is available (in a cold war gone hot both sides would most likely be jamming the crap out of each other).

Legion 431 Oct 2018 7:03 a.m. PST

There is nothing that can replace having your own eyes on the situation.
True … but again, in closed or mixed terrain, darkness, certain weather conditions, etc. it is not always possible. As well as in modern mobile combined arms warfare things could move very quickly. LOS/FOF could change frequently …

During the Cold War when I served, '79-'90. All troops were trained on use the radio and proper procedures, etc. As a Plt Ldr and Co Cdr, the radio can be your most powerful weapon. E.g. calling in FA, mortars, gunships, CAS, even Naval Gunfire.

(in a cold war gone hot both sides would most likely be jamming the crap out of each other).
Even though we had devises and methods to help prevent jamming, etc. It would still most likely happen regardless.

When we were deployed to Panama the CZ, in '83. Intel told us there were 3 USSR Spy Trawlers off the coast. We could even see them from Ft. Sherman. So we had to cover everything up, etc., i.e. OPSEC, etc. They not only could monitor, or try to, our radio transmissions but with high powered binos, etc., could see a lot of things that were not in the jungle, covered up, concealed, etc. They could get some good intel, etc., if we didn't adhere to proper OPSEC.

They did jam us a number of times. And in some cases when we thought they were monitoring us. Some "rude" things were said across the net about those Russian sailors' mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, etc. wink

Dynaman878931 Oct 2018 10:03 a.m. PST

> Some "rude" things were said across the net about those Russian sailors' mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, etc.

They probably just laughed at the attempts at being insulting, I have heard there are none better at insulting each other than Russians. Of course that could just be a national myth.

UshCha31 Oct 2018 10:07 a.m. PST

We had another discussion about this and I think Lion in the Stars comment has it no change. It would have to be a big gain to be worth including, even regular players find that the rules need to be the minimum to achive the objective, More rules less bounds. Too few bounds adversely effects simulation quality when overall play time is limited. Thank you for the help there is s nothing better than a few facts to ruin a "good" theory!

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2018 10:23 a.m. PST

I confirm Russian have a huge sense of Humour, some of it pretty close to the Brits. It would be much of a game for them.
I remember them putting us their folk music. Good I always liked it.

To be constructive about como and rules:
You can hardly get the combination of waiting, errors, jamming, over crowding the waves, not to spek of the panic etc. of the real thing.

Proper training would offset a lot.

I think you need some event cards, to be put on the other side with say 50-70% chance to occur, not to be magical auto stuff.
So they be used for important cases ( as the others, you probably want to skip, not to encumber the game pace.).
It would include, fubar, jamming, mis reading maps. Anything.

Everything in close terrain should be slow, not in the same pcing as the rest.
Probably random , not to be predictable.

Los would be important in higher build up areas, hills, forests even, for radios. See Arnhem.

No idea what level your rules are.
I foud most "modern" bn and more rules to be mostly disconnected with the reality, only interested in moving tanks in a ballet where you throw dice looking at a more or less sophisticated collection of hardware.

catavar31 Oct 2018 11:01 a.m. PST

I think the further back you go the more important LOS will be. Evan more modern (several decades ago) radio's have their limitations from my experience. I can only imagine the transmission/reception difficulties with even older post-WW2 ones. French Indochina comes to mind.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2018 11:06 a.m. PST

Yes. One of the huge discrepency with reality of our post 1900 games, with the empty battlefield and hidden stuff, even when firing.
Computer games might do it better.

Martin Rapier01 Nov 2018 1:59 a.m. PST

At company level and up comms in the Cold war weren't too bad, it gets a bit more iffy at platoon level. As noted above, to get the platoon radios to work you usually had to stop.

Guys with access to vehicles had more reliable comms.

One of my pals who (still) gets paid to do this for a living said that the biggest difference on the modern (ie post 2000) battlefield and the Cold War are GPS and reliable, secure battlefield comms. For the first time in history (outside Ancient battles) commanders actually had a decent idea of where their own troops were in real time. And they can talk to them.

Warfare in the 1980s wasn't like that, and as a junior leader, the most effective battlfield command you could give was 'follow me'. I remember reading an account of the assault on Wireless Ridge, and it said essentially it was like the Somme or the Reichswald. They formed up in lines and walked slowly towards the Argentinians behind an artillery barrage.

So I wouldn't overestimate the effectiveness of 1980s comms equipment at lower levels.

Legion 401 Nov 2018 7:36 a.m. PST

Rarely was the platoon leader in LOS with any squad.
Very true … Again, if just not because of physical terrain, but darkness and even bad weather … E.g. heavy rains/monsoons, heavy snowfall/blizzard …
They probably just laughed at the attempts at being insulting, I have heard there are none better at insulting each other than Russians. Of course that could just be a national myth.
Probably .. but you know soldiers … both young and old ! evil grin

Proper training would offset a lot.
In any and all tasks that a soldier has to preform. Including SOPs, etc., while in training … You know what to do without being told in many cases.

So I wouldn't overestimate the effectiveness of 1980s comms equipment at lower levels.
Generally our standard squad/platoon radio, the PRC-77, worked fairly well. But like all commo, terrain and even weather, etc. can disrupt transmissions. As well as weak batteries from any or all in the net. Which you'd just changed out. Batteries for all your devices were usually in all resupply ops. Along with ammo, rats, water, etc.

Warfare in the 1980s wasn't like that, and as a junior leader, the most effective battlefield command you could give was 'follow me'.
Follow Me is the US ARMY Infantry School motto actually. evil grin Generally speaking in many cases, Fire Teams and Squads in the Plt were operating closer than elements above that. But having lead a Rifle Plt in the forested USA and Jungles of Panama. You in many cases could not see any or all the elements of your command.

Even in the desert, it is not as flat as one might think. Full of barely perceptible slopes/dead space, etc. Regardless again, in temperate regions things like trees, foliage, etc., could get in the way. And of course never underestimate yelling out orders the old fashioned way, if possible.

As noted above, to get the platoon radios to work you usually had to stop.
That was not always my experience. And as I said you may of had to move to another location to get better commo. Of course many times you will do a halt, using hand & arm signs. And the Plt would get down, set up a hasty defensive perimeter, you'd do a map & commo check, etc. Then get on your way. Plus many SOPs were developed to overcome lack of good commo, etc.

Guys with access to vehicles had more reliable comms.
Yes, as a Mech Commander your M113 radios, forget the model numbers, etc., old fart, were larger and better than the backpack PRC-77. But when the dismounts got out of the PC, a 77 would go with them.

And as Mech Cdr I had both an M113 and M151 Jeep fitted out with larger radios. And even a PRC-77 for dismounted movements. Mech Infantry like Light Infantry many times does it's best work on the ground. Sometimes when the Company dismounted I would command from the M151 because it had better radios than just the 77.

Generally Squads operate fairly close to the Plt Ldr/CP. But not always especially when sending out a patrol(s), etc. As a Co Cdr depending on the mission you may be closer to the Plts or not. Again, with the terrain you would most likely not see any elements. As I said thick woods, foliage, structures, etc.
Again, even in the desert. As like in any situation you try to fine cover and concealment. Going along with the adage they we were told. "If you can be seen you can be hit, if you can be hit you can be killed." frown

But let there be no doubt as either a Plt Ldr, Co Cdr, Air Ops Ofc, etc., commo can and will go out at the worse possible times. For whatever unknown reason(s) … frown Been there…. done that …

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