Talking Tactics, Part Six
Resource placement is a broad title to cover a broad range of issues, all of which contribute to a better understanding of how to allocate your resources on the battlefield, from general unit placement to the specific deployment of men within a squad or section. It is the responsibility of any platoon commander to plan and then allocate assets accordingly, un the same way that a Section commander would be responsible for ensuring that his men were best placed to face any
An elementary lesson is infantry tactics is to consider the way units were structured and why. By the end of WWII most forces has moved to a “triangular” system based on the number 3. Three platoons in a company, three companies in a battalion, three battalions in a Regiment and so on. The reason the triangular system was so popular was that it was the most flexible structure for combat. As can be seen below, the advancing platoon places one squad or section in the lead with two slightly behind it. When the lead unit makes contact with the enemy, the two rear units can be deployed to the left, right, or either side to face that enemy.
What is more, if the enemy approaches from a flank, the triangular formation is well equipped for all-round defence, with one unit facing the enemy off and allowing the other two to manoeuvre to support.
In defence, the commander places two units forward with one in reserve. This allows maximum firepower to meet the enemy advance, but also retains a mobile reserve which can be committed as best suits circumstances as the battle develops. In Chain of Command, this third unit represents the section or squad held off table to be deployed at the key point at the decisive moment. It is not necessary for the player to stick rigidly to the triangular formation, but it is worthwhile using the principles of one up, two back in attack and two up and one back in defence.
Squad & Section Deployment
In a real infantry unit every soldier would have his job and know how to do it. Whether the unit was in a file, extended line or arrow-head formation, the man would know his place. In a platoon level game we do not need to track every single man, but the placement of the LMG should be the primary concern as it is this which provides the most efficient firepower. The following diagram shows a British platoon advancing. As the top it is in single file, a formation which is easy to control and ideal for moving along a linear terrain feature such as a hedge. The lead section is deployed with its rifle team to the fore and the Bren team slightly to the rear and offset to allow covering fire if required.
Behind the lead section is the ‘O’ Group with the platoon commander, then the 2″ mortar with the Platoon Sergeant, then are the other two rifle sections. Unlike the lead section, both of these deploy with the Bren at their head, ready to deploy into action as quickly as possible.
The platoon below is advancing with one up and two back. Again the lead section hs its rifle team forward, this time in an arrow-head formation, with the Bren team to their rear ready to give fire support. The platoon commander is at the centre of the formation, ready to give orders, with the 2″ mortar and the Platoon Sergeant ready to give fire support. To the rear the two sections are deployed with their Bren teams outermost, positioned to fire covering any forward advance, but also ready to engage any enemy appearing on the flank.
The next diagram shows the German platoon undertaking a similar advance. All of their squads have the LMG at their head, even the leading squad in file. Other than that the deployment, with the LMGs best placed to give all-round fire support, is the same as the British.
The US and Soviet deployment tends to mirror this as well, but the larger US squads will have a scout team deployed ahead of the whole formation. As stated, in Chain of Command we do not need to be over fussy about the placement of individual men, but at the same time soldiers do not run around in chaotic bunches. Ensure that your squad or section LMG team is well placed to face any threat and that will suffice.
Allocation of Support Units
The application of maximum force at the decisive point is a standard military doctrine in all armies, but is possibly best illustrated by the German concept of a Schwerpunkt. To achieve the desired application of force, the Germans would break the battlefield down into operational “corridors”, each assigned to a specific unit. The narrowest corridor would be the focus of the main effort, allowing even an outnumbered force to achieve numerical superiority at the key point. Below we see two platoons, to the left and right, operating in relatively broad corridors. Here they apply sufficient pressure to pin the enemy to their positions, stopping them moving to support their neighbours. Meanwhile the second platoon, in the centre, attacks down a narrow corridor with all of the key support units firing to support their attack.
At that point the defender cannot resist such an attack, the line fractures and the attacker,s plus any mobile support units, move through to roll up the rest of the positions from the flank and rear, this time with the two flanking units pushing home their attacks. We can see this below:
Ultimately, careful deployment and positioning of resources will contribute to overall success using the principles of fore and movement which we looked at in the previous part of this series. A focus on deploying key assets to the decisive point, a point determined by careful location of the enemy’s own assets in the manner seen in this series, will allow the gamer to apply irresistible force at the weakest point in his opponent’s line whilst harbouring resources elsewhere by simply pinning rather than attacking at all points. This not only wins battles, it also save soldiers’ lives.