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"Boyd's OODA Loop and the Infantry Company" Topic


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Wolfhag19 Jan 2020 1:13 p.m. PST

The O-O-D-A loop is the constant revolving decision cycle that the mind goes through every second of every day in dealing with all tasks from mundane to the most complicated. The cycle follows the pattern of Observe-Orient-Decide-Act. This cycle applies to friendly forces, enemy forces, and noncombatants alike. It is how the mind deals with its outside environment and translates what it sees to action.

It's an interesting article from the viewpoint of giving a better picture of how and why better units outperform more poorly trained troops. In low level 1:1 combat when timing counts and your reaction speed means survival, better training and experience will normally "seize" the initiative and get through their loop first keeping their enemy off balance and a step behind when they do get to "Act" on an order.

The more decisions a unit or individual needs to consider and the more outside stimuli (suppression, the fog of war, friction, loss of C&C, etc) he is confronted will directly relate to how long it will take to go through his loop. This is where better-trained troops that have been drilled and know their Reaction Drills for a given situation will have better Situational Awareness (Observe), have a better grasp of the situation and options because they've been through it before(Orient), make a quick decision with a minimum of delay (Decide) and seize the initiative to execute their order first (Act).

In the heat of combat, good troops will fall back on their training with a minimum of control/supervision to react in a timely manner to a situation. Poor troops will freeze, be undecided, look for guidance and likely select the wrong response.

Chance plays only a small part and suppression will degrade the enemy units' ability to observe, shoot, move, and communicate forcing them to take longer to "Act" and when they do it may be too late.

Here is the article: link

Wolfhag

Legion 419 Jan 2020 4:14 p.m. PST

In the heat of combat, good troops will fall back on their training with a minimum of control/supervision to react in a timely manner to a situation. Poor troops will freeze, be undecided, look for guidance and likely select the wrong response.
thumbs up

Mobius19 Jan 2020 4:35 p.m. PST

In contrast to the above comparisons between arms in the British Army, a comparison of gallantry awards for the British and the Gurkha battalions of the British Infantry in Fig 7 indicated a 70% higher level of recognition in Gurkha battalions than British (24). The geometric mean of the ratio of awards to killed in action was 0.105 for the British and 0.176 for the Gurkhas. A comparison2 of the combat effectiveness in defence of the British and the Gurkhas indicated a 53% higher level of effectiveness in Gurkha battalions than British. Thus this provides independent confirmation of a link between gallantry awards and combat effectiveness.

Are Gurka units better trained?
PDF link

parrskool20 Jan 2020 2:16 a.m. PST

… anyone who has ever met a Gurkha could tell you this. Bravest of the Brave.

Wolfhag20 Jan 2020 8:56 a.m. PST

Mobius,
I was reading the pdf you linked to when I saw your response.

Are Gurka units better trained?

Well, probably. But Ghurkas are born, you can't train to be one. I think they go through mostly British Army training but their selection standards are tough.

More testing are the requirements to be able to run 800m in two minutes 45 seconds, do 12 pull-ups and 70 sit-ups, and to face a final interview that is half in English and half in Nepali. If applicants fail, they are allowed to reapply until they reach the age limit of 21.

They have to meet the same standards as a common Brit squaddie because the Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) are normal light infantry, not special-forces.

That said, the selection process where they decide which 125 of the 25000 applicants gets to be trained is TOUGH:

It is a chilly December morning and we are in a spectacular gorge in Pokhara. Next to us, a fast-flowing aquamarine river burbles as the recruits put 25kg bags of sand into their doko a traditional wicker basket carried on their backs. This is the hardest physical challenge of Gurkha recruitment perhaps anywhere in the British Army: a 5km uphill run that has to be completed in less than 48 minutes, an ascent of more than 400m through dusty and rocky trails. On the starting line they are warned that they cannot push anyone else, and if they get any help from relations lining the course they will be disqualified. 'It's a test of stamina, character and commitment,' Col James Robinson, Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, says. 'And it separates the men from the boys.'

You can't train to be a Ghurka. It's a Ghurka thing. Another element that vastly increases the effectiveness of the RGR is the 99% retention rate (almost all Gurkha recruits go on to serve the maximum of 22 years in the army, whereas British recruits average 5 years service). That means that the Gurkhas have a whole lot more experience in their platoons than the average line-infantry regiment.

So how do you measure their effectiveness? With a die roll or having a system that would allow them to get through their OODA Loop before their opponent because of better tactical positioning, team work, physical conditioning and esprit de corps that allows better observation and less chance of surprise (Observation). Being better trained to evaluate the situation and any "Risk-Reward Tactical Decisions" available (Orient). Being more decisive in selecting and issuing an order (Decide). Enabling their speed and decisiveness to seize the initiative to get inside their opponents loop and beat them to the punch or shoot first (Act).

I think that using OODA Loop timing is a better indicator of unit effectiveness. Suppression, fatigue, poor C&C, poor training, and friction will increase the amount of time to get through the loop and with all factors being equal the better units should act first.

Wolfhag

Legion 420 Jan 2020 9:02 a.m. PST

I think that using OODA Loop timing is a better indicator of unit effectiveness. Suppression, fatigue, poor C&C, poor training, and friction will increase the amount of time to get through the loop and with all factors being equal the better units should act first.
I agree … having lead an Air Assault Rifle Plt as an LT then later commanded a Mech Co as a CPT. Many factors come into the equation on many levels.

Bottom line well trained and experienced troops with capable leadership generally always perform better than otherwise.

donlowry20 Jan 2020 9:36 a.m. PST

So, how to translate this into rules?

Wolfhag20 Jan 2020 9:50 a.m. PST

Don,
Do you have any suggestions? According to the experts quoted below being a time competitive process and "Usually seconds decide" means you need to implement some type of real-world timing. The choices would be how many seconds, minutes, hours or days would you use to measure individual vehicles or infantry team/sections timing through their OODA Loop? Otto Carius would probably choose seconds.

Tactical Decision Making, Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1, Warfighting
"Whoever can make and implement his decisions consistently faster gains a tremendous, often decisive advantage. Decision-making thus becomes a time competitive process, and timeliness of decisions becomes essential to generating tempo."


Quote from Otto Carius book, "Tigers in the Mud": "Unfortunately, impacting rounds are felt before the sound of the enemy's gun report, because the speed of the round is greater than the speed of sound. Therefore, a tank commander's eyes are more important than his ears. As a result of rounds exploding in the vicinity, one doesn't hear the gun's report at all in the tank. It is quite different whenever the tank commander raises his head occasionally in an open hatch to survey the terrain. If he happens to look halfway to the left while an enemy anti-tank gun opens fire halfway to the right, his eyes will subconsciously catch the shimmer of the yellow gun flash. His (the tank commander) attention will immediately be directed toward the new direction and the target will usually be identified in time. Everything depends on prompt identification of a dangerous target Usually seconds decide. What I said above also applies to tanks that have been equipped with periscopes."

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP20 Jan 2020 10:54 a.m. PST

Do you have any suggestions? According to the experts quoted below being a time competitive process and "Usually seconds decide" means you need to implement some type of real-world timing. The choices would be how many seconds, minutes, hours or days would you use to measure individual vehicles or infantry team/sections timing through their OODA Loop? Otto Carius would probably choose seconds.

So, the better the training and/or experience, the quicker the decision-making process. Correct?

This seems to be an easy addition to your rules Wolfhag, but what about larger scale games? [Where turns are measured in seconds?] Speaking of that, what about systems like Chain of Command which has 'turns' measured in tens of seconds.

Legion 420 Jan 2020 4:08 p.m. PST

the better the training and/or experience, the quicker the decision-making process.
That sounds about right …

Blutarski20 Jan 2020 6:28 p.m. PST

Interesting discussion.

I'm reminded of the old aphorism that a good plan carried out immediately is far superior to a perfect plan implemented too late.

On a related note, what is the opinion of the effect/influence of "auftragstaktik", wherein (as I understand it) the objective is identified, the plan to achieve same is broadly outlined and initiative on the part of lower level leaders in execution thereof is both encouraged and expected?


B

Stoppage21 Jan 2020 4:55 a.m. PST

On a related note, what is the opinion of the effect/influence of "auftragstaktik", wherein (as I understand it) the objective is identified, the plan to achieve same is broadly outlined and initiative on the part of lower level leaders in execution thereof is both encouraged and expected?

Only works in totalitarian armies which devolve responsibility accordingly. (ie ranks all operate at a higher level than those of democratic armies)

donlowry21 Jan 2020 9:21 a.m. PST

Perhaps a system in which players draw cards to see who goes, and the one whose units have the better training/experience has more cards in the deck?

Blutarski21 Jan 2020 9:36 a.m. PST

Hi Stoppage.
You wrote (regarding "auftragstaktik"?) – "Only works in totalitarian armies which devolve responsibility accordingly. (ie ranks all operate at a higher level than those of democratic armies)"


I confess that I do not understand what you are driving at. Can you clarify?

B

Stoppage21 Jan 2020 4:04 p.m. PST

Not my idea – I read it somewhere:

German NCOs (especially Feldwebels) had a lot more responsibility than US/Brit NCOs – they operated at a higher level. Check out 'Prima Plana' NCOs in Central European armies (similar to Brit Warrant Officers).

US/Brit Officers didn't want their careers to be ruined by their NCOs (who came from a different social class) so they (NCOs) were given less responsibility.

Auftragstaktik works best when everyone in the chain has a stake in the system, responsibility, and experience.

Spotty 19 year old subalterns straight from school don't really fit into this system.

Blutarski21 Jan 2020 5:45 p.m. PST

Thanks, Stoppage. I see what you are driving at. Not sure that the US was/is as prone to such implied class distinctions as Great Britain. The one thing I have noticed in my readings is that British operational orders for an attack tended to be comprehensive, expansive, highly detailed and reaching down to the lowest echelons … whereas, by comparison, a German counter-attack might be launched with a couple of scribbled lines on the back of a napkin (exaggerating for dramatic effect but I trust you get the distinction I'm going for).

I do know that the US Army became quite interested to study the idea of "Auftragstaktik" during the postwar period. Perhaps Legion 4 or some of his service-experienced brethren can comment.


B

Wolfhag21 Jan 2020 5:56 p.m. PST

donlowry,
If the OODA Loop is "time competitive" then we need to use timing and we'll take Otto's suggestion of "seconds count" and use seconds as our timing value. That can give realistic split-second results I like that for 1:1 combat.

Drawing cards is a little too random. Timing of actions through each unit's OODA Loop in the game can synchronize all of them to the same game turn, somewhat like a video game. Then announce the turns second by second and all units scheduled to act for that turn do so and then go back to observe, orient, and decide and record the next future turn they'll act again. If there are no actions for a turn you go right to the next one-second turn always moving from action to action without drawing cards, determining initiative, activating units or an orders phase.

I'll post an example later.

This seems to be an easy addition to your rules Wolfhag, but what about larger-scale games? [Where turns are measured in seconds?]

In a larger scale game would use a larger increment of time depending on what the details you want to simulate. Maybe 1, 5 or 10 minutes. I have not gone in that direction yet but I think the larger actions the OODA Loop would be most applicable to the amount of time for unit commanders to go through their loop and get an order executed by the lower command. Poor leaders or ones with poor intel would hesitate and take longer. The amount of intel could affect the timing too. The amount of time to deliver the order would be a delay. Delays are deadly and will allow the enemy to get inside your loop and seize the initiative. A leader attached to the front lines has better intel and can get through his loop quicker but will isolate his command to other units. Risk-Reward chances to take.

That was Alexander the Greats command method and he had good lower unit commanders. By the time Darius got to "Decide" in his loop and the lower level commanders got the order to "Act" the order was not relevant thus giving Alexander the initiative to continue to bend the enemy to his will at the point of attack. Alexander was where the action was and thus enabling him to stay inside the Persian OODA Loop (one step ahead). The initiative is not random, it is seized through fast and bold action executing good tactics.

Speaking of that, what about systems like Chain of Command which has 'turns' measured in tens of seconds.

It's a great game. I have a copy of the rules and have watched about 3 hours of videos but have not had a chance to play it. I think it concentrates on command & control by attempting to issue commands to units using command dice that may or may not be what you need. You "command" by stringing together actions with the dice you have. You get to make a lot of low-level decisions a platoon or squad leader would make. CoC has an FoW where the turns can end without anyone knowing when. The OODA Loop is an endless game turn moving from action to action. They are both take different approaches.

I'm still working on my infantry rules that will integrate with the tank combat rules. Just like the tank combat, I'm using the infantry manuals to recreate the action using the OODA Loop Action Timing in 5 and 10-second increments except for hand-held anti-tank weapons. You don't really need the 1-second timing except when firing some weapons and reacting for a Situational Awareness Check.

It will be a team/section stands. When not under fire units will normally behave as ordered. When under fire/friction they may need to pass a Tactical Competence Check to obey. To advance under fire they'll have to pass an Aggressiveness Check if failing they hit the deck or fall back. It's easier to advance under fire using a coordinated Fire & Movement suppression.

When a unit fails a check a leader (normally Squad or Platoon Leader) if close enough, can use their leadership modifier to "motivate" the unit to obey. Better leaders make poor units perform better.

Units are pinned down and unable to advance under fire when their Tactical Competence + Leadership Rating is < the Suppressive Fire Rating. Their only option may be to Fall Back (automatically obeyed) or have a higher level leader or Commissar show up and motivate them or suppress the units firing on them. There is less emphasis on attrition and more on suppression thus forcing the enemy to Fall Back because they have no other option.

However, each time a leader "rises to the occasion and displays his courage" in the heat of combat he exposes himself to enemy fire and can potentially be a causality. That's the "Risk-Reward" option I like and there are additional details, actions, and characteristics like you'd find in stories and after-action accounts.

Wofhag

Stoppage21 Jan 2020 6:29 p.m. PST

This book might be of interest:

STORR, Jim: The Human Face of War.

link

Warning – he critiques OODA (but for formation commands)

Stoppage21 Jan 2020 6:37 p.m. PST

It strikes me that OODA might be a useful framework for modelling decision-making and delays in combat:

Observe – the enemy, ground, situation, etc
Orient – identify the enemy and their intent
Decide1 – report observations to superior and await orders, or make own plan:
Decide2 – prepare quick attack
Decide3 – dig shell-scrapes
Decide4 – brew-up (tea, not tank)
Act – give orders to subordinates

All of above gets thrown into confusion when new enemy is revealed or new enemy intent becomes apparent. Repeat loop.

Wolfhag22 Jan 2020 12:18 p.m. PST

Stoppage,
Yes, that's what it's all about. I've started reading the book.

Observe encompasses good tactical deployment, fields of fire, suppression, surprise, overwatch, and environmental conditions that can limit spotting.

Orient can present a "menu of options" available to the player (with restrictions or pre-reqs) which can really help new players. It's also where units with special abilities can be shown. If you have data cards for specific units abilities and tactics it can be listed there too.

Decide can have poor troops with an additional delay to determine how long to perform an action. Command & Control can be simulated by the further from the HQ issuing the order the longer it takes. Comm breakdowns delay too.

Act is the future turn the order is executed and it may be the wrong action by the time it is executed. Maybe have local commander initiative to "disobey" the order and issue his own which should take minimal time with his local units.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2020 2:17 p.m. PST

In a larger scale game would use a larger increment of time depending on what the details you want to simulate. Maybe 1, 5 or 10 minutes. I have not gone in that direction yet but I think the larger actions the OODA Loop would be most applicable to the amount of time for unit commanders to go through their loop and get an order executed by the lower command. Poor leaders or ones with poor intel would hesitate and take longer.

Then, depending on the scale, one *could* use your seconds counting for longer periods of time with different controls for 'how long' decisions make just like you do for individual tank actions.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2020 2:20 p.m. PST

Observe the enemy, ground, situation, etc
Orient identify the enemy and their intent
Decide1 report observations to superior and await orders, or make own plan:
Decide2 prepare quick attack
Decide3 dig shell-scrapes
Decide4 brew-up (tea, not tank)
Act give orders to subordinates

Stoppage:
While that might be a good 'framework' for decision-making in a wargame, I think it would be awful awkward to make into a game process, particularly if it is going to be repeated by both sides--repeatedly.

Wolfhag23 Jan 2020 12:48 a.m. PST

McLaddie,

Then, depending on the scale, one *could* use your seconds counting for longer periods of time with different controls for 'how long' decisions make just like you do for individual tank actions.

Sure, you can use any number. Originally I wanted to fit tank gunnery combat and tactics from the manual into a 10 second turn but I could not figure a playable to portray realistic rates of fire and the ability to trade accuracy for speed. Then I tried 5 seconds and that didn't work either. Using 2 seconds kind of worked but if 2 you might as go 1 and then you are getting that split second result. I never thought a game based on 1 second turns would work but it's not really a turn like in other games. It's just timing. I've found it easier to get a 12 year old to understand it than an old time experienced gamer.

In a game of the Ancients or Napoleonic Eras you could use movement markers for all units/formations, including messengers and leaders. You'd get realistic artillery and musket rate of fire and artillery set up time too. Depending on the scale, I wouldn't use a movement marker that is more than 2" long. Infantry units would not be moving more than 3m/second so 100m in 30 seconds for a scale of 1" = 50m. You would need to physically move all of the units every 30 seconds of game time. I think you could use 1" = 100m and move them every 60 turns. A cavalry trot would be about 15kph. I think it would depend on how many formations/figures you had and how often you'd be advancing the models.

I ran a game of the "Charge of the Light Brigade" using this system with 20mm figures and a table about 20 feet long. I think I still have some pictures. It was great and easy to play. When the British came within range of the cannons I gave them the choice of speeding up to get out of range but be strung out when they got to the cannons. We used the historical rate of fire for the cannons and muskets too.

Rates of fire and rate of movement are synchronized. However, to be playable you can't have that one second increment of timing for all of the actions that can occur. As a playable abstraction every 10th turn we determine the results of small arms fire (measures a volume of fire, not each shot), bail out success, radio communications success, morale, and recovery from malfunctions.

One problem we ran into is how do you accurately simulate a playable simultaneous second-to-second movement system on the battlefield for dozens of units that enables all of them to accurately move at their correct rate of speed. That would solve the opportunity fire problem if the rate of fire and rate of the movement were synched second-to-second and still be playable.

Example: A unit moving at 28kph would realistically move between 7m and 8m per second which is about 8mm on a 1" =25m scale. Rather than measuring how far each unit moves when it was their turn to move we used movement markers to match their rate of speed over 5 seconds. Speed markers are of proportional length which gives a visual indicator of speed. The marker is divided into 5 equal segments so you get where a moving units has "virtually" moved to as each one-second turn is announced. As each one-second turn is announced (the clock moves ahead one more second) all units with a movement marker "virtually" move to the next segment on the marker. This can present a new mutual LOS that opponents can react to. Every 5th turn the model is moved up to the end of the marker and the marker placed to show the new direction of movement. It's been working out pretty well. To stop remove the marker. If stopped, place a marker to move out.

Getting a visual of the battle you can imagine how a large 1800's battle would look. With the movement markers showing how far units are moving in 30 seconds you can realistically estimate where they'll be in a few minutes or more. Without using unit activation rules, you as the player need to estimate the action and predict future location of units and intercept flanking maneuvers with your reserves. To slow an advance hit it with artillery. You can't blame the dice for not activating your formations or an excuse that it was your opponents turn to move and you were helpless as he flanked you. Using Action Timing and Virtual Movement gives a completely different experience to a game.

Another problem the Action Timing and Virtual Movement solves is plotted artillery fire against moving units, especially fast moving vehicles. In a game using 30 second turns a vehicle moving at 28kph is going to move about 230m (just over 10" with 1" = 25m). So with a barrage of 5 rounds plotted on the table in the 30 second turn, how do you accurately determine which ones will affect the vehicle? I mean it is moving, right? How do they really interact? Using the Virtual Movement concept and movement markers the problem solves itself without any additional rules, exceptions or die rolls. Anyone can do it.

For timing, we use the rounds Time of Flight which is easy to find. So if the FO is going to call in a barrage targeting a platoon of 5 vehicles moving at 28kph he needs to plot the MPI of the barrage about 250m in front of the moving unit if the range for the artillery shows a 30 second Time of Flight. However, the target needs to cooperate by moving straight for the next 30 seconds. Now you can see how hard it is to call in artillery if moving units start maneuvering after each spotting round. Normally you set up a barrage at a choke point and force the enemy to move through it and hope for the best. Mortars work the same way. We've come up with ways to really speed up the process and keep it accurate so the game does not bog down to a game of "Artillery Commander".

Wolfhag

Stoppage23 Jan 2020 3:50 a.m. PST

WH, have you seen Car Wars?:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Car_Wars

Stoppage23 Jan 2020 3:53 a.m. PST

McL:

Perhaps only do the OODA loop when the CoS (VLB Change of situation) event fires!

Wolfhag23 Jan 2020 12:05 p.m. PST

Stoppage,
Don't think of the OODA Loop like a game rule. Think of it as a "State of Mind" on how someone reacts to an event. All units are in one part of the loop and always able to Observe. The OODA Loop does not actually guide the player like a game rule sequence. It is how the player is naturally and logically is approaching the situation which is why you don't have to teach it. Each game will have different factors, units, options and situations at each step of the loop but it does not change the basic concept.

When the CoS event fires, the enemy, always active and able to Observe, detects it. Now he may also be going through the process to shoot at a turn in the future. When he Observes the CoS event he then Orients his past experiences to it, evaluates if it is a threat, and then go over his options, etc. He then Decides if he should take action or ignore it, what action it is and how long it will take to execute.

The player always has the option of ignoring threats he observes. A tank may see infantry and other tanks but consider only the tanks a threat so he engages a tank and ignores the infantry for now. While waiting for his turn to Act (shoot) other targets may come into his LOS that he can Observe and react to, ignore or send a radio transmission about them.

I tell new players to forget about the rules. Put yourself in the situation of the unit, you see what they see. Evaluate the threat, decide on the action to take and then determine how long it will take. Don't complicate it!

There will be a few "Risk-Reward Tactical Decisions" the player can make to trade decreased accuracy for increased speed to seize the initiative to shoot first. This is where the real skill and your historical knowledge come in to implement a strategy to use your strengths against your enemy weakness with less reliance on the dice and more reliance on skill.

Since the order and Action Turns to shoot of your opponent is not known a natural Fog of War makes it almost impossible to predict the exact turn an enemy will act. This creates suspense in the game as each 1-second turn is announced no one knows what will happen.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2020 12:45 p.m. PST

Perhaps only do the OODA loop when the CoS (VLB Change of situation) event fires!

WH: Well, like VLB, you end up with first defining what constitutes a CoS and then dealing with how many times in a game players face a CoS.

I was thinking that 'counting time' could be ten, fifteen minutes or even 20 or 30 minutes. You would need a chart like yours which denotes how much time different decision/action activities take.

The counting seconds requires a very low level game…not bad, just limited to a small scale.

Stoppage23 Jan 2020 4:31 p.m. PST

One thing about very short time frames is that you might have to really get among the weeds because little details start to have real influences:

Gunner mislays a collar piece off the GPMG regulator whilst clearing a stoppage created by dirty receiver – no cover fire for final assault.

Signaller's radio battery goes flat (forgot to re-charge and didn't bring spare) – can't call in arty.

Button comes off and shoulder tab gets jammed in the Charles Gustav mechanism – can't engage enemy armour.

Forgot to replen coolant and didn't check at first parade – tank engine overheats, stalls, and becomes sitting duck.

Etc, etc (actually none of the above ever happens to good troops – those that plan, rehearse, and check every detail obsessively)

Wolfhag23 Jan 2020 4:52 p.m. PST

One thing about very short time frames is that you might have to really get among the weeds because little details start to have real influences:

Well, you can but you don't have to. It really depends on what you want to recreate or bring out in a scenario.

I use a D20 when shooting. A 20 is an automatic miss and a SNAFU Check. Typical results are a gunsight goes out of alignment, jam, misfire, loader slips reloading, loader loaded the wrong round. Pretty much historical from stuff I've read and personal accounts. Some rare results would be the driver panics, backs up and take a bog check. Loader injured/WIA by the recoil, gunner pressed the coax mg pedal rather than the main gun, recoil/recuperator system overheats. I also have a 1 in 2000 chance of a round exploding in the chamber and it happened to me the first time we played the game. I have different ones for the infantry and crew-served weapons. They are a real crowd pleaser when it happens.

There are mechanical SNAFU Checks too for the common things that happen. Like the German Panthers spontaneously bursting into flames for no reason without being shot at.

Of course, you could have a result that tea brewing device short-circuited and the crew must pass a morale check or bailout.

Wolfhag

Stoppage23 Jan 2020 5:58 p.m. PST

WH: You have crossed the line, offended HM Regs and are now under orders.

B.V.check (boiling vessel) is first item on check-list. They aren't allowed to run dry or go cold. Morale check? Pfft.

P.S. Don't let on to the enemy, but there is usually a brigade Naafi-wagon nearby for the impossible. Lol

Mark 124 Jan 2020 3:40 p.m. PST

On a related note, what is the opinion of the effect/influence of "auftragstaktik", wherein (as I understand it) the objective is identified, the plan to achieve same is broadly outlined and initiative on the part of lower level leaders in execution thereof is both encouraged and expected?

Only works in totalitarian armies which devolve responsibility accordingly. (ie ranks all operate at a higher level than those of democratic armies)


From my understanding, the response above is actually the opposite of how it actually works.

Key, though, is to NOT get confused between "totalitarian armies" and "armies from totalitarian regimes".

Presuming here that with the word totalitarian we mean a system wherein: authority exercises absolute and centralized control … the individual is subordinated … and opposing … expression is suppressed. (Excerpted from Dictionary.com, if you care to know.)

The German army of WW2, and tracing all the way back to Frederick the Greaat's Prussian army, was absolutely decidedly demonstrably NOT totalitarian in it's methods and training. Britain's army in WW2 was decidedly more totalitarian than the German army. The Soviet (Red) army was perhaps the most totalitarian of the major combat forces, although the Italian and Romanian armies were also rather totalitarian in their approaches. The US army was less so than the British or Russian armies, but more so than the Germans, in part because the US Army (at that time) really had no doctrine on the matter and kind of muddled its way around according to the tastes of the individuals involved.

This factor is un-correlated with whether or not the army was serving a totalitarian political regime. Both the Nazi and Soviet regimes were very much totalitarian, but their armies operated quite differently.

The German concept of auftragstaktic operated on the basis of pushing the tactical decision-making down to lower levels. German officers at every level were trained not only in following orders, but in disobeying orders when they observed that conditions had changed. In fact, most orders were not written to tell the subordinate what to do, but what to achieve, with how it was to be "done" left up to the subordinate's judgement. This is the opposite of the popular impression of German automatons "just following orders".

Pushing the implementation decisions down in the organization does not change the fundamental behavior of an OODA loop, but rather has the effect of making a shorter OODA loop. When the decision happens 4 levels up in the chain of command, the observation has to be transmitted up those 4 levels, and the decision-maker then has a long time constant before "observing" what was observed by the distant subordinate. Then the Orient process also is likely to take longer, as there will be more observations to amalgamate at higher levels in the organization (you saw A, but someone else saw A too, and reported a different perspective, and someone else saw B, which has to be taken into account). Only then can a decision be taken, and then we go back into the 4 level delay cycle before anyone takes action.

This is why small mortars at the company level are SO effective, when we all know that the larger mortars at the Battalion (and even larger artillery of whatever type at regiment) can deliver more bang on the target. The key is putting an OODA loop entirely in the hands of the guy on the scene. His decision to bring his mortars on the target RIGHT NOW suffers no extended-loop delays as it goes up the chain before coming back down the chain to the battery that will actually fire.

Consider the tank crewman in a WW2 German vs. Russian tank.

In the Russian tank, the orders were to advance onto Objective A, executing rolling suppressive fire on the likely enemy positions at B and C. The gunner observes an enemy tank appearing from the woodline to the right of C. He has his own personal OODA loop: he observes something, he figures out it's a tank -- likely an enemy tank. His decision? Tell the tank commander. His commander now has the observation in his hand. What will he do? Does he disobey orders and switch fire? More likely he decides either to report to his platoon commander, or just ignore the observation. His platoon commander will then run the same OODA loop -- disobey orders and authorize a switch of targets? Not likely. Better to either ignore the observation or report to the company commander. Providing everyone has working comms, maybe 20 or 30 seconds later the company commander is made aware that someone in one of his tanks might have seen something in the woods. Pfft, keep advancing and firing according to orders. Oh, and why are all my tanks burning?

In the German tank, the orders were to attack the enemy at position A, using fire and movement as needed to suppress enemy return fire. Likely enemy positions include B and C. The gunner sees what he believes is an enemy tank in the woodline right of C. His observes the thing, and orients on his interpretation that it is an enemy tank (a threat). His decision is likely to be to switch targets immediately to engage this new threat, and communicate to his tank commander "New Target, enemy tank, right of C. I am engaging." His commander may countermand that decision if he has good cause (for example he sees what he judges to be a greater threat somewhere else), but in the German doctrine there is no criticism of the gunner taking that decision upon himself, nor criticism of the tank commander for not enforcing the continued firing on B and C, or criticism of the platoon commander for allowing one of his tanks to switch targets without orders. So some 20 or 30 seconds later the company commander finds out his tanks are already in a tank-vs-tank action, and he can then issue orders for 1st and 2nd platoons to set up a base of fire while 3rd platoon maneuvers for flank shots. He will express his orders in what he wants them to achieve, a base of fire, or flank shots. But he won't issue orders for the tanks to halt where they are, or go into a gully, or drive 100 meters to the right. That's the "do". He will leave that to his platoon commanders.

It is decidedly not a result of the German political system being totalitarian or the US political system being democratic. The question is whether the army's doctrine is totalitarian. The German tradition was very much not totalitarian. This is to a large extent why they were as tactically effective as they were. It is also, as a side issue, a significant contributor to Hitler's mistrust of the his army, as he was philosophically opposed to the idea of subordinates having independent decision-making authority.

Or so I've read.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

Blutarski24 Jan 2020 4:42 p.m. PST

+1 Mark.

B

Stoppage24 Jan 2020 5:08 p.m. PST

@Mark 1

Points beautifully made. Thanks.

Wolfhag24 Jan 2020 10:39 p.m. PST

Mark 1,
I was going to reply but I could not have put it as eloquently as you did.

Stoppage,
My goodness, looks as if I've come a cropper on the BV remark. Well, drag me off to the Tower.

Naafi-wagon. Is that like an American Roach Coach?

Wolfhag

Stoppage25 Jan 2020 2:20 p.m. PST

WH: Heh Heh Heh.

You can also be sent to The Tower if you put a postage-stamp on upside-down.

Roach coach! Lol.

Wolfhag26 Jan 2020 11:50 a.m. PST

Battlesight versus Precision Aim:
Since seconds count the gunner and commander can decide the best way to engage a target and address the "speed versus accuracy" problem. Typically, the tank will have the elevation setting to engage a target at the expected range they will encounter them. Battlesight allows quicker engagement time but with a decreased accuracy because of spending less time estimating the range and aiming. When seconds count, high-velocity guns have a real advantage because Battlesight is normally only useful out to one second Time of flight. Above one second, the trajectory is too high to use Battlesight. In my game that is a decision the player makes to balance accuracy and speed to get through their loop first to shoot before his opponent. This is where the players decision decides the result, not the dice.

Commander and Gunner interaction:
This is from the US M60 tank manual and flowcharts some of Mark 1's previous post.

Wolfhag

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