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paradoxbox

What are acceptable losses?

64 posts in this topic

I played through a fairly easy scenario the other day and achieved a major victory.

 

But when I looked at my losses I felt they were rather high, considering the relative simplicity of the mission. I lost around 4 IFV's and 2 or 3 tanks to enemy fire (all while under AI control though, never lost a vehicle I was commanding), and 1 or 2 vehicles that the AI unfortunately decided to take for a swim while I was busy in another tank.

 

I knocked out around 20 of the enemy's tanks, IFV's and a helicopter or two.

 

Would you consider this acceptable or not, and if not, what are your strategies to reduce losses? Especially needless losses like swimming tanks and brainless IFV's marching into the middle of an open plain.

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AI will do what you tell 'em to do*(well, most of the time)

Be careful on path/formation setting to avoid water accidents.

Choose battlepositions carefully and apply the propper tactic-settings to them.

Also,esp. in single player, attach conditioned withdraw routes to the battlepositions....detailed info on those point can be found in the manual.

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Unfortunately you didn't tell us what you started with. :)

 

4 IFV + 3 Tanks + 2 others = 9 vehicles.

 

If you started with say a Combat Team of about 15 vehicles, that's bad. A Battle Group of say 45 vehicles, OK.

 

Usually* greater than 30% casualties renders a unit combat ineffective - that is, unable to proceed without reinforcement.

 

So how you went depends on what you were told to do ("hold at all costs", Vs "avoid decisive engagement") and the size of yourt force relative to the enemy's

 

* there are always exceptions / special cases.

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More to the point, what happens after the battle is over and you have to carry on to do another mission? Is your unit in any condition for the next task.?  Gamers typically only look to the end of the scenario.

 

Reminds me of the scene in Hamburger Hill about the first contact where they rout an enemy squad but lose a guy. The Cherries are like,:"Hey Sarge we did pretty good today we routed a whole squad!  And the SL is like:

"The only thing that happened today is that we lost a man..."

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In reality..How many letters do you want to write???

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...if you are willing to follow the attrition doctrine - that's the unspoken assumption behind it.

 

This does not apply to every situation!

 

In fact, I somewhat doubt that any western democracy is still following the attrition concept of grinding down the opponent faster than he grinds you, not even with a 1:10 ratio; maybe 1:50 or 1:100. Instead, our armies are pursuing the (elusive) goal of a zero defects/zero casualties doctrine that is willing to substitute casualties by (extremely high) monetary spending. "Shock and awe" is at the core the Blitzkrieg concept - to overwhelm the opponent with a totality of (precision) fire where the explicit intent was/is such a big psychological impression that the enemy is willing to surrender before he even gets a chance to fire at you (it only worked partially in Iraq - but that was the idea behind it nevertheless).

Israel would roundly reject the concept of attrition in any conflict ever since 1948.

Even Russia is seeking to transform its military towards fewer and fewer losses.

 

The zero losses doctrine - let's call it that for a moment - demands of course massive fire superiority and, at the same time, the reduction of personnel exposed to enemy fire (actually, the reduction of personnel in theater). The individual infantry squad in Afghanistan, say, can at times wield firepower exceeding that of an infantry battalion in WW1 if you count access to loitering air support, otherwise it's the infantry platoon that has as many MGs as the infantry battalion had, 100 years ago (plus anti-tank weapons, which they didn't have back then). In other words, ZLD is designed for asymmetrical warfare - it aims at creating conditions for substantially superior firepower and standoff for all engagements. The obvious weakness of the concept is the small personnel footprint (sheer "boots on the ground" - to influence the situation by means other than firepower, and to sustain occasional losses), and the implicit assumption that you actually can force the conditions for asymmetrical conflict.

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Posted (edited)

That seems unrealistic and is probably over complicated for the OP. I doubt if any military can assume zero casualty even in peace time. Therefore there must always be an acceptable attrition ratio.

 

Plus of course (unless the scenario creator has explicitly created one) we do not have any sort of morale check for the enemy which means they will fight to the death. This will lead to losses higher than the Reall world equivalent might.

Edited by DarkAngel

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I'm not saying that this is well reflected in Steel Beasts, not the least because in most scenarios you are setting up largely symmetrical forces (makes for better entertainment). But the unspoken assumption in your reference is a doctrine of attrition.

 

And no matter how realistic it is: The expectation of the general public/political leaders is that we be fighting bloodless wars (on our end, at least) --- unless, maybe, it is a matter of national survival. Time and again western civilizations (including Soviet Russia) have shown little patience with protracted campaigns and even moderate losses (compare the duration, number of soldiers deployed, and actual losses of WW2, Vietnam, Afghanistan 1980, Iraq 1992, Afghanistan 2002/2012, Iraq 2003/2006) when the wars were fought based on some more or less abstract political concept (Domino Theory (1963), "helping out a socialist brother" (1979), defending a rich but impotent ally (1991), fighting back against a large scale terrorist attack (2001), "transforming the Middle-East" (2003)).

 

Of course, the effects in Soviet Russia were less drastic/took more time because it wasn't an open society back then. Nevertheless, the Soviets pulled out eventually for well-documented reasons. Like in Vietnam it was never a question of winning the tactical battles. It was a strategic defeat because the public, no matter how suppressed its voice may have been, was unwilling to sustain losses over an extended period for little ot no appreciable gain.

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I heard "Expected casualties" more so in the last 10 years, of my 35 year service, reflecting the Commanders/ Armies/ Governments known negative press in my mission briefs.

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You have to very VERY clearly differentiate between infantile, irrational and emotional civilians, who have completlely unrealistic ideas of what war is and their expectations for losses: own AND the enemy.

(Mis)Led by incompetent and unknowledgable journalists with the attention span of a 6 year old with ADHD ...

 

And on the other hand military professionals.

 

Regarding the last then there are a strict military rationale of being able to do a military job with a given military strength. And on the other hand a less cold, cynical and factual evaluation of acceptable own losses. And nessecary enemy losses - seen for instance in the stop of slaughter of Iraqis on the Highway of death in Gulf War 1 (2/3/4 ?) in 1991.  

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50 minutes ago, Nike-Ajax said:

You have to very VERY clearly differentiate between infantile, irrational and emotional civilians, who have completlely unrealistic ideas of what war is and their expectations for losses: own AND the enemy.

(Mis)Led by incompetent and unknowledgable journalists with the attention span of a 6 year old with ADHD ... 

 

But it's those infantile, irrational and emotional civilians who will ultimately decide about whether your war receives continuous support or not. So, get used to that...

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Posted (edited)

10 minutes ago, Ssnake said:

 

But it's those infantile, irrational and emotional civilians who will ultimately decide about whether your war receives continuous support or not. So, get used to that...

 

They can be maipulated ... and are frequently done just that ...

 

Case in point being the former american presidents undeclared war by drones. If there is no soldiers in the loop its much easier to cover it up by not talking about it ... 

So a new Paradigm for the elimination of perceived enemies without any adherence to the laws of war as it were. Made by a man who wondrously received the Nobel peace prize in advance. A scandal in its own right.

 

BUT my point was simply to state that there are no actual factual limit or boundary. But rather that its dynamic and flexible.

Edited by Nike-Ajax

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Yes, but that goes straight back to the "zero loss doctrine" that I mentioned above, the desire to fight a bloodless war (on "our" end).

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Posted (edited)

True true ...

 

But a combination of new technology and new ways to manipulate unenlightened media have created new ways of waging a "bloodless" war.

 

Which in fact is anything but.

 

 

Edited by Nike-Ajax

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it's always gone both ways; human beings are evolved primates straddling on the one hand the frail psychology which comes with evolved brains and their animal natures on the other. hence why leading up to world war one, you had people writing about how rotten and boring the perpetual peace was compared to the chivarly and heraldry of the romantic past- the adventure, the extreme risks, the rewards in war and this sort of thing. then people got sick of it once the war set it in and life obviously was cheap and disposable on the battlefield with new weapons technology capable of industrial scale killing. then it only took a few years for some people to forget all that and start pining away again for the start of world war 2- which in virtually all states participating in it was presented as clean as possible, references to casualties were not only reduced or white washed but usually forbidden to be shown, wartime censorship seems obvious now to anyone watching old films just how contrived the narration was, like boy scouts going off to war was like an afternoon football match. all media was virtually propaganda for the the governments to one degree or another.

 

post war there was a lot of films presenting the topic of war in very john wayne-esqe sort of terms, despite the real events going on in korea and southeast asia showing a very different picture in a different movie house. here is a known phenomenon for us troops in vietnam: it was common at some point in a tour for the average combat soldier to settle in and accept that he may die and perform his job nonetheless- but as he drew closer to the end of his tour, his psychology switched into a real dread that he may buy it close to the end, then apprehension and fear set in as he naturally sees the end so near and the survival instincts overrule what the mission goals may be. studies done after world war 2 by western allies seemed to indicate as a general rule, about 1/3 of combat troops were usually the gung ho types, the ones most likely to take the most risks and found killing for the sake of killing to be quite stimulating and gave them a feel of power; 1/3 were more opportunistic, finding discretion to be the better part of valor; this group may enjoy killing but may struggle with it personally and feel guilty for it. the last 1/3 were the guys that from the standpoint of wanting to throw young men into combat in order to kill, these are least reliable and the least cut out for it- combination of social and biological factors just meant that they weren't 'natural' combatants and found themselves caught in the circumstance.

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There was a lot of debate here about our potentially pulling out of Afghanistan after insurgents took out ONE Warrior IFV.

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Posted (edited)

well here is the thing: don't forget that people are more literate and educated than they ever were in the past. they now see their social predicament, pay grades, value and so on to society better than they ever have before (and partially as  result of being told the individual life is supposed to matter in first world, free societies). they have seen the results of governments withholding or manufacturing information and stay in protracted conflicts and display a willingness to spend the lives of its citizens or their relatives in wars where there seems to be some disconnect often with what they governments are saying and what is actually happening. is it any wonder why the public's appetite for endless losses and spending money to prop failed states or dubious regimes is growing a bit thin? the fight for freedom narrative has been exposed to any sort of rational scrutiny with the history of western governments supporting, among others, non-democracies and often brutal regimes like the saudis , the military dictatorships in asia and latin america and so on. western governments were even friendly with the fascist francisco fanco even well after world war 2; so if you see what i mean therefore why there will be a disconnect usually between average citizens and the people who fight on their behalf- the former if they have any sort of education at all can often see the aims and objectives of their governments in war on their own, the latter is usually the type of person who is idealizes these things enough to voluntarily join the armed services, who doesn't reduce all this behavior to cynicism and politics- at least not until they may disabuse themselves of these stories as well.

Edited by Captain_Colossus

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Posted (edited)

There are 3 official deathtallies, that are in play here:

 

1) Number of own losses

2) Number of enemy losses

3) Innocent or collateral losses

 

As events like the Terrorbombing of Dresden in WW 2, the Firebombing of Tokyo and the uses of nuclear bombs clearly show then historically number 3 is not a issue that in fact stops anyone from doing what is deemed the EASIEST way to win.

Not to mention Genocides like the british use of Concentration camps during the Boer war, Turkish slaughter of armenians during and after WW 1 not to mention the massmurder by each and every Communist/socialist country interbellum and post-ww2.

Fast forward to Russian/Syrian/Iranian operations in Syria and other places which shows the same. Or for that matter the american indescriminate use of drones, that is CLAIMED to have a low footprint, but in fact is perceived to have created many more terrorists because of collateral damage. And have at least eroded whatever goodwill and moral highground the former american president had.

Or the anti-insurgency operations done post WW 2 by numerous NATO countries including  Turkey, Spain and UK against domestic terrorists claiming to work for independence of regions within said countries.

 

In other words then the ACTUAL and FACTUAL sttempt to avoid innocent death are de facto totally non-existing.

 

So the attempt to avoid such to me is to be seen as a shallow and insencere.

 

So too is number 2, which have chronically also been faked by governments.

Historically Russian, Then the Soviet Union and now Russia again is the country that have been revealed by the outside to have made vast lies or historical revisionism in an attempt to downplay own losses. The work of Krivosheev is a giant sham, lie and academic hoax to that end.

 

The Americans during the Vietnam war learned the hard lesson of not focusing on number of enemy losses.

 

SO ... are there no one without blame?

 

Not really no.

 

Nietche said it right:

 

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster . . . when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you”

 

 

SO...bottom line is that its only your own losses that matter.

 

And there you have to separate it into 3 perspectives or effects as I see it:

 

1) psychological

 

 

2) political

 

 

3) tactical

 

number one and two can really depending on the situation require just one ... See the shameful Japanese retreat from Iraq for instance.

 

 

tactical depends on the situation, tactic, enemy, doctrine and the type of troops.

Edited by Nike-Ajax

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I don't want to delve into the actual topic of this thread, but it does bring up a relevant feature that I wish SB had: casualty scoring. Right now you can set a condition to end the mission if your forces suffer 80% losses for example, but that is strongly biased towards tanks and PCs vs troops. I just checked and in a mission with 4 M1s and one squad of 15 men, killing the entire 15 man squad only dropped the score by 13% even though it was almost half the total number of men in the mission. The loss of one tank (and it's crew) was worth 21.7%.

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I've read a lot of military history. A lot!

My perception/opinion based on that (and historians tend to write to their perceptions) is that when a unit in battle takes 25% or more casualties (wounded and killed) it's ability to continue to fight effectively starts to become impaired not only due to losses but also due to the morale impact of men seeing their friends killed, maimed and wounded. At 50% they are next to useless (all they want to do by they point is GET THE HELL OUT OF DODGE!). My perception is that the 25% varies depending on the training and experience of the unit.

 

There are many historically documented exceptions - key word exceptions! The spartans (those guys were just plain unreal) and the Iron Brigade of the US Army in the American Civil War come immediately to mind.

 

Take this post with a grain of salt - I'm a bit buzzed right now.

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Also, armored vehicle units seem to be less affected, as the losses of other vehicles are less directly perceived by the individual crews.

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1 hour ago, Ssnake said:

Also, armored vehicle units seem to be less affected, as the losses of other vehicles are less directly perceived by the individual crews.

 

When one of your AFV brews up, there is not much you can do in a mobile battle anyway (apart from reporting it to COY/BN net so the medic AFV know there is "work")

In infantry operations, often 1 guy wounded, will bind minimum 1-2 soldiers for 1st-aid and /or evacuation. So in a 25-men platoon, 5 wounded can have a huge impact on your combat effectiveness(esp. if the "rescue-chain" is not working well)...even if you don't take the moral effect into account.

 

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23 hours ago, Grenny said:

 

In infantry operations, often 1 guy wounded, will bind minimum 1-2 soldiers for 1st-aid and /or evacuation. So in a 25-men platoon, 5 wounded can have a huge impact on your combat effectiveness(esp. if the "rescue-chain" is not working well)...even if you don't take the moral effect into account.

 

 

Interesting, but difficult, to simulate in SB.

 

Anyone any idea if this the same with our more irregular opponents in e.g. Iraq ?

(guess it's the same).

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