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Troop Quality
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Alexei McDonald
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Joined: 17 May 2006
Posts: 401
Location: Livingston, Scotland
Re: Troop Qaulity  Reply with quote  

quote:
Originally posted by Lukw Willen:

Yes, Slim did lead from the Front. However, this does not prove that the 14th Army units with the specific exceptions of the Chindits and Merrill's Marauders, used an Auftragsdtaktik doctrine. Indeed, performance in the Arakan, Imphal, Meikteila and Mandalay suggests a much more set piece Befehlstaktik approach. The chase to Rangoon was much more of a pursuit operation. I am yet tio be convinced that the majority of the 14th Army, and indeed the majority of the Allied armies in any theatre of the war used Auftragstaktik as the German army did.



That's okay ; I'm yet to be convinced that it's worth trying to model.

"I suppose dozens of operation orders have gone out in my name, but I never, throughout the war, actually wrote one myself. I always had someone who could do that better than I could. One part of the order I did, however, draft myself—the intention. It is usually the shortest of all paragraphs, but it is always the most important, because it states—or it should—just what the commander intends to achieve. It is the one overriding expression of will by which every-thing in the order and every action by every commander and soldier in the army must be dominated. It should, therefore, be worded by the commander, himself."


Field Marshal Sir William Slim,
Defeat Into Victory
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Post Mon Mar 19, 2007 1:02 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Lukw Willen
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Joined: 08 Feb 2007
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Location: Nottingham, UK
 Reply with quote  

Alexei

"I suppose dozens of operation orders have gone out in my name, but I never, throughout the war, actually wrote one myself. I always had someone who could do that better than I could. One part of the order I did, however, draft myself—the intention. It is usually the shortest of all paragraphs, but it is always the most important, because it states—or it should—just what the commander intends to achieve. It is the one overriding expression of will by which every-thing in the order and every action by every commander and soldier in the army must be dominated. It should, therefore, be worded by the commander, himself"

That proves that Slim personally may well have used an Auftragstaktil command doctrine. What it does not prove is that this doctrine filtered down to the lower command levels (i.e. divisional, brigade and battalion level.

"That's okay ; I'm yet to be convinced that it's worth trying to model. "

You need to take a closer look at the German Army, the reasons for its early successes and assess the reasons why it performed as well as it did under the adverse circumatances it fought under from 1943 onwards. Specifically you need to look at why so many Allied attacksin Italy, Normandy on the German border and on the Russian Front failed completely or did not achieve anyhthing like the full objectives expected,

Factor at a tactical level include training and morale which are already considered by CD. What the rules do not take into account sufficiently is thw ability the Germans had to rapidly respond to circumstances.

Luke

Post Mon Mar 19, 2007 1:54 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Alexei McDonald
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 Reply with quote  

Ah, no. There's a difference between something existing and something being worth modelling. CD lumps quite a lot of things together in troop quality and morale, and some important elements of C2, such as initiative (which is what directive control is about, when it comes down to it). Do I really *need* to take one of these elements out and put it on centre stage?
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Post Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:29 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jack Radey
Major General


Joined: 28 May 2006
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 Reply with quote  

Luke,
I'm sorry, and I hope this doesn't come across as rude, but I'm not sure you really understand much about either the German Army or its tactics, or those of the Allies. There is history, and pop history, and the two are not the same. For one thing, history will suggest that a lot of generalizations are not supportable. The differences about mission objectives and mission details (dictated from the top, or based on initiative below) is a far more complex subject than a simple, "The Germans did it and it worked and the Allies didn't (couldn't?) and only their commandos did" simply overlooks a huge amount of actual experience. John Sloan (Col, US Army ret) points out in his intro to Bryan Fugate's badly flawed "Barbarossa" that the individual initiative business had the German Army going into Operation Barbarossa with a plan that was based on the idea of deception, not of the enemy, but of their own higher command, where some of the German generals, particularly the panzer group leaders, with the connivance of those higher up, had their own plan and set of priorities, which were radically different from their commander in cheif's, and in fact the individual panzer commanders often saw themselves as the strategists, who would decide how far and how fast, and in what direction they would go, orders be damned. It got so bad that Guderian had a G painted on every vehicle in his command, to make sure they would clearly be identified as HIS, not to be assigned to anyone else.

Similarly, all of the Allied armies, certainly the US Army and the Red Army (I am less familiar with the British practices) used essentially the "Here's your objective, here's our unit boundaries, we'll jump off at 06:00, meet you on the objective, lets try to be there by 18:00" style of command. Yup, the Red Army too. (See both Sharp and Glantz for this).

I listen to veteran interviews for a living, have heard maybe 2,000 hours + of them. Mostly WWII. When asked about the Germans as opponents, most of them say some version of the following: "They were real tough, but if they lost their officer, they didn't know what to do and tended to sit and wait for someone to tell them, whereas the US Army would improvise, and was less concerned about rank and status. A corporal could take over a platoon, and if he was a leader, no one cared about his rank."

All of the "It was all Hitler's fault" tired old excuses by the German generals get kind of boring after a while. Yes, the Germans were good tactically, but no, they were no supermen. They were beaten by the Red Army, with some help from the Allies. Think about it. Within one month of its commencement, Operation Barbarossa as a plan was knocked into a cocked hat, and the Wehrmacht was forced to an operational pause. It had half of its tank park out of action, the Luftwaffe had suffered a higher casualty rate per sortie than it did in the Battle of Britain, and while the Red Army had suffered catastrophic casualties, it didn't break, but in fact would nearly break the Wehrmacht's back that winter. And the Red Army was outnumbered when it did so. Gee, how did that happen? Oh yeah, it was the mud... and snow... and the sun was in their eyes... and it was all Hitler's fault. I forgot... Rolling Eyes

Tactical independence and reliance on initiative is great, in some circumstances. It can also lead to fighting in a completely disjointed and disorganized manner. There are countless references to German divisions, on the defensive, being fed into battle in penny packets, and eaten up, for example in their counterattacks at Aachen in late '44.

Throwing a little German into the discussion doesn't necessarily clarify anything. It is a sad and long standing problem in the wargaming community of gamers seduced by all the German memoir material and countless books of reverent repetition of tales of German "superiority" into thinking that a "realistic" game would have the Germans winning most of the time. After 1942, they didn't, and they had serious defeats in 1941 and 1942, in some cases at the hands of troops arguably less "professional" then they. Kasserine, which has been cited here, is a fine example of two commanders each aufstragtakticing up a storm, and working at cross purposes which greatly advantaged their opponents.

Does the game need some rule to make the Germans more effective? I don't think so. Does anyone else? Shocked

Post Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:37 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Lukw Willen
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Joined: 08 Feb 2007
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Location: Nottingham, UK
Troop Quality  Reply with quote  

Well, my view is that the difference between Auftragstagtaktik and Befehlstaktik is worth modelling for the reasons previously discussed.

Command Decision is, as I know we will both agree is an excellent system. This does not make it perfect, nor does it mean that it cannotbe improved further. If you think that the modelling of the differences in command and control will make it too hard to play the game, no-one is forcing you to play it that way.

Luke

Post Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:38 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Cerberus
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Joined: 22 Apr 2006
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 Reply with quote  

Good discussion, and whenever anyone prods Jack into a long reply, I learn something new.

I also think that if Luke wants to use CD as a basis to explore the differences between Auftragstagtaktik and Befehlstaktik, that's an excellent idea. Modeling decision making modes is a great way to gain a deeper understanding of them, and I did a fair amount of that back in the 90s on exactly this topic. As a means of exploring the topic on your own - go for it. but don't expect it to appear in mainstream CD gaming.

That being said, let me observe that Auftragstagtaktik and Befehlstaktik are tools, and one is not necessarily superior to the other, just different and applied in different circumstances. The fallacy is to become too enamored of your tool and lose focus on your goals and the means available. The old saying goes, "If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Good leadership makes plans based on the resources available, not worried about some abstract "best" doctrine.

Here's a real world, non-military example: My son played football (American) in a youth league for two years. The first year he was a part of the "second string" team for his age group - the A team supposedly had all the talent and was expected to do great thing. The B team were the leftovers.

The B team coaches watched the kids in practice, learned their strengths and weakness, and crafted their plays based on those observations. As the season progressed and skills improved, plays were adapted. If the kids couldn't execute a play, the coaches tried something else. They never yelled, never expressed anger at the players, even when they made bad missteps. The kids' morale couldn't have been hire. The B team won their division championship, leaving the A team in the dust.

The next year, my son was on the A team. The A team coaches were aggressive, motivated and had "a plan." The coaches had sweated and worked and analyzed and come up with what they considered a work of art. (Different age group - different set of coaches.) Unfortunately, The Plan didn't match the abilities of the players, and no amount of yelling, berating or pushing changed that. Somehow, the coaches never caught on that maybe The Plan needed to be revised or scrapped. It was a miserable season.

And it was the best study in contrast between effective and ineffective leadership I've ever seen.

Regards,
Mitch Osborne

Post Mon Mar 19, 2007 6:29 pm   View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger
Cheese
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Joined: 09 Jan 2007
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Location: Baton Rouge
 Reply with quote  


quote:
Similarly, all of the Allied armies, certainly the US Army and the Red Army (I am less familiar with the British practices) used essentially the "Here's your objective, here's our unit boundaries, we'll jump off at 06:00, meet you on the objective, lets try to be there by 18:00" style of command. Yup, the Red Army too. (See both Sharp and Glantz for this).


Excellent post, and I'm just trying to clarify a few things (for my information!). Would the example you gave above (jump off at such and such time and see you on top of the hill at 1800) be of the order from division to regiment or from regiment to battalion?

I guess the question is "At what level did a more comprehensive plan get developed?". Was it at the regimental, battalion, or company level? Or were SOP's so ingrained in the officers and men that such an order could be issued and a large formation (say, a battalion with attachments) could successfully conduct an attack?

I actually agree with your point. And as a complete amateur and newcomer to semi-serious WWII study, I am constantly surprised at some of the myths that I have to unlearn.
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Post Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:30 pm   View user's profile Send private message
DurochD
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Joined: 27 Apr 2006
Posts: 833
 Reply with quote  

[quote="cheese_99"]


quote:
I actually agree with your point. And as a complete amateur and newcomer to semi-serious WWII study, I am constantly surprised at some of the myths that I have to unlearn.


The hardest one is the myth (perpetuated by Spearhead and similar) that the Germans should always have better command, and reflected in the "response" die modifier, or similar. Those ost battalions and similar from the CD1 Stolberg scenarios begged to differ very early on in my weaning from WW2 myths.


Last edited by DurochD on Tue Mar 20, 2007 3:08 pm; edited 1 time in total

Post Tue Mar 20, 2007 2:30 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Jack Radey
Major General


Joined: 28 May 2006
Posts: 2836
Location: Eugene, OR
 Reply with quote  

Mr. Cheese,
The answer to the question is, it depends. Although a superficial view would give you the text book answer (what's in the field manual?), the truth on the ground often was at considerable variance from the official story. Some commanders, of all armies, would tend to give their subordinates more rein, others would not. It had a great deal to do with the commander, and his view of his subordinate's abilities. The case that came to mind was from Charles Sharp, referring to David Dragunsky's description of the actions of his tank brigade at Lvov-Sandomirez, and in fact I would suggest that I can think of one about a year before, involving the same tank corps. These orders might be from a tank corps to a brigade, or from a division to a regiment, or from a regiment to a battalion. For a set piece attack, while lower echelons would have input into a plan, and had some control over their own part, generally there would be a clear plan everyone was expected to follow. Coordination with artillery support and air support in the depth of the enemy position, and not having a lot of friendly fire situations kind of depends on this. You can be more creative if you have real good and reliable communications, but... since Murphy is far more the god of war than even artillery is, (not YOU, Mike) it can be dangerous.

In general, I think you can safely say that as an army gains experience, leaders gain confidence in their subordinate's ability to use their initiative to achieve the objective. This was true for all armies in WWII that I am familiar with. And it applied from squads to corps. Some commanders had a trusting relationship with their subordinates, some didn't. Armies new to the reality of combat, the Red Army in 1941, or the US Army in 1942, having fewer experienced lower level commanders, and still feeling their way doctrinally, would more often have more of a tendency to insist on subordinates sticking to a plan.

Post Tue Mar 20, 2007 3:28 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
scromett
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Joined: 27 Apr 2006
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Location: Lafayette, Indiana, USA
 Reply with quote  

quote:
Originally posted by Jack Radey:

In general, I think you can safely say that as an army gains experience, leaders gain confidence in their subordinate's ability to use their initiative to achieve the objective. This was true for all armies in WWII that I am familiar with. And it applied from squads to corps. Some commanders had a trusting relationship with their subordinates, some didn't. Armies new to the reality of combat, the Red Army in 1941, or the US Army in 1942, having fewer experienced lower level commanders, and still feeling their way doctrinally, would more often have more of a tendency to insist on subordinates sticking to a plan.


I'd be willing to generalize and say that Jack is right about this for almost all periods of warfare. Grant mentioned the failure of the ANZACs at Gallipoli in another context, which was the result of a lack of initiative on the part of the inexperienced officers commanding, as much as anything else. Had the veteran ANZAC troops of the 1918 been there, I suspect they would have been straight up on the high ground.

I think the Germans had an early edge due to their doctrine and training, but as their opponents gained experience, this advantage evaporated. I DON'T think any new subsystem is needed to handle this difference. I think the Germans have enough advantages already, frankly.

Shawn

Post Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:05 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
AKosion
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Joined: 29 Apr 2006
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Location: Athens, Greece
 Reply with quote  

Luke,
First of all, I want to state clearly that the objections raised to your proposal are not an attempt to enforce CD "orthodoxy". Now that we got that out of the way: there are two issues here. One, was the German way of fighting a battle radically different and superior to that of the Allies, two, is there a way to model this difference within the CD system to allow more realistic games.
Now I think it's clear where I stand regarding point one: the difference (where it existed) in the textbook doctrine did not filter is as pure a form down to the actual regimental/battalion practice. And even as early as the Polish campaign the Germans lost battalion and regimental engagements, so there's much more at work here than a pure test of doctrine. It is obvious we disagree on this.
However my main objection is to the addition of a significant complex mechanism to the rules to reflect this perceived difference. Francis' and Edward's idea of a few FoW cards is more acceptable as a mechanism, but the whole "Auftragstaktik benefit" concept does not sit well with me (Jack will forgive me for not using the english term, but I need to show off 12 years of German lessons!). Adopting such an idea, and giving it a *key* part in the game, penalises the Allied players two-fold:
1) We can agree that from mid-late '42 on the Allies could really punish the Germans operationally and strategically. The games we play on our tables are of those engagements where this Allied advantage was negated enough to allow the Germans some success. That is perfectly acceptable, I'm not saying that the Normandy preparatory bombardemnt would make a good skirmish game or somesuch nonsense. *But* this does mean that in a sense, our games already have an "anti-Allied" bias built in.
2) Much more importantly, wargames are "Auftragstaktik" situations. Even when a side has the scenario beforehand, and time to prepare, they extremely rarely plan their moves in the detailed fashion Befehlstaktik requires. To do a proper Befehlstaktik deployment you will need to have planned out before the game every order every command stand will give every turn of the game. I am not convinced this is going to make for en enjoyable experience.

best regards
Aris

Post Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:43 pm   View user's profile Send private message
Iddon
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 Reply with quote  


quote:
Does the game need some rule to make the Germans more effective?


Boy has this thread been hijacked!
Wern't we originally talking about the merits of including the concept of sub-unit, unit and formation command friction (initiative)? And it has come down to 'should we further reward the Germans'.

The detail in this topic and the posts provided seem to show to me that this is an area of keen interest to a lot of people. I disagree that if implemented, it would result in a natural and inexorable bunch of bonuses to the Germans. I believe a balanced and appropriate solution could be found.
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Post Tue Mar 20, 2007 1:26 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Edward Sturges
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Location: Farnham UK
 Reply with quote  

Greetings

It certainly is an interesting topic.

It might be interesting to see house rule(s) on this and then for those interested to try out a scenario with 'vanilla' rules and with the house rules in operation to see how it affects the game - I suspect you'll get a trade off between time and observed 'friction' which people can then decide if they want to add to their games.

As for me I want to play a number of games with the rules as they are before venturing into 'house rule' territory.

Regards

Edward
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Post Tue Mar 20, 2007 11:03 pm   View user's profile Send private message
ThomasTheTank
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 Reply with quote  

At the great risk of blowing this horn too often, let me re-suggest letting the side with higher troop quality decide to go first or second. I've used this for years and first proposed in for CDII in the Command Post in an effort to get rid of the unworkable simo movement rule (now RIP).

It doesn't favor any particular army (and one thing I've learned over the years is NEVER get into a debate about which army was better in WWII as this question is simply impossible to resolve) just better qualilty troops (though I do let Germans break ties instead of just rolling for it).

It does force you to make a Command Decision about whether to seize the initiative and go first or counter punch but I like making Command Decisions and will happily take a minute to do so. This is much more fun than looking up arcane weapons data on a chart.

As players get more used to the system the decision time speeds up as players begin to think ahead to the next turn.

Its pretty binary but does avoid the die roll effect of poor quality troops being able to outmanuver better qualtiy about half the time.

Tom

Post Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:20 pm   View user's profile Send private message
Bill Owen
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Joined: 02 May 2006
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 Reply with quote  

First, I agree with everyone who likes to just play the game as written. But each of us has a different X number of times before we give in to making rule variants!

quote:
Originally posted by ThomasTheTank:
...let me re-suggest letting the side with higher troop quality decide to go first or second. It doesn't favor any particular army... SNIP ...(though I do let Germans break ties instead of just rolling for it). SNIP ...but does avoid the die roll effect of poor quality troops being able to outmanuver better qualtiy about half the time. Tom

---
Combined with Shawn's suggestion:
We did come up with a simple solution to the five minute argument about the winner of initiative choosing to move first or second. The CinC of each side had to place a counter with a 1 or 2 under their command cap designating if they wanted to move first or second if they won the initiative. Consultation on the matter between was strictly forbidden between players and had to be done during the timed order placement phase.
---
And I'd add that neither side can change that 1 vs 2 counter once either side has rolled.

Then another idea is to have the commander of each place their counter (numbered 1 & 2 on the reverse) AND the side with higher overall troop quality gets to roll a die with more sides. Like-

Die sides / If average quality is:
6 Green
7 Trained
8 Regular
10 Experienced
12 Veteran
14 Elite

And the side with the die with FEWER sides wins ties! (So no need to reroll. Saves time and rebalances the odds a bit.) Math whizs can determine how this affects probability. This approach requires more time to set up (and thus best for referee-prepared games) but less time to play.

PS Another big plus to this suggestion is that allows the typically insane wargamer who owns 46 different dice types to use them. Smile Yes the 5, 7, 14 & 16 sided dice do exist:
http://gamestation.net/category/1003.1009/

And you could adjust the die type used by morale or situation ...you get the idea.

And if you want to flatten the differences (making the range say 5-10), you could just make 2 cups worth of chits numbered 1-10 and remove the unneeded ones before the game. Now I'll finish and you can tell me how I'm full of chit(s).
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