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ChuikovChambered

Controversial Strategy

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Good maneuver of a formation can cause a battle to be won without firing a shot.

Isn't that a wee bit optimistic?

I'd like to see at least one example where that happened - victory purely by maneuver in a battle (not in an operation during a campaign, mind you) without a single shot fired. I know of none. While my instincts tell me to favor maneuver warfare over attrition, I have to acknowledge the fact that without at least the demonstration of overwhelming firepower you can be all the stealth monkey that you want to be, it doesn't eliminate the will or the ability of the enemy to fight back.

If we want to reduce the debate to buzz slangs, the difference between maneuver and attrition warfare is the reversal of means and purpose - do we apply firepower in order to enable maneuver, or do we move in order to apply firepower. Either way, fire cannot be separated from maneuver.

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Isn't that a wee bit optimistic?

I'd like to see at least one example where that happened - victory purely by maneuver in a battle (not in an operation during a campaign, mind you) without a single shot fired. I know of none. While my instincts tell me to favor maneuver warfare over attrition, I have to acknowledge the fact that without at least the demonstration of overwhelming firepower you can be all the stealth monkey that you want to be, it doesn't eliminate the will or the ability of the enemy to fight back.

If we want to reduce the debate to buzz slangs, the difference between maneuver and attrition warfare is the reversal of means and purpose - do we apply firepower in order to enable maneuver, or do we move in order to apply firepower. Either way, fire cannot be separated from maneuver.

I was actually thinking of something in a level higher than the tactical realm. Apologies. But I will give an example that is less extreme that I experienced in SB. I remember a scenario in which my opposition gained quite a large piece of the map simply because he exploited my own poor positioning. Even though the first engagement was successful for me, it did prove the precariousness of the defense that I set up (at least to me). Thus forcing me into a repositioning further back than where I was initially.

Though I do agree the comment by me was optimistic, but war does tend to have extremes. As such, it is possible that a sort of black swan of that nature can happen.

As regards maneuver and the will to fight, I would say that if you find yourself in a situation in which the enemy has cut you off from re-supply, that would greatly affect moral.

As regards the firepower vs maneuver debate, one would think that both are important, but maneuver would be a bit more important simply because it allows one to get inside of your opponent’s decision cycle. Especially if it is combined with a decentralized decision making process. The use of firepower itself is necessary to either create the gap and expand it, or to create general mayhem behind the lines of your opposition (I.E., destroy something valuable to the enemy such as artillery, supplies, etc). So I would never disagree with you on the subject that firepower is of immense importance. Though it may not be as important as mobility. But then again, I am tainted by Lind, et al. ;)

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  1. It was a duel situation, not a battle
  2. Ramming, in this context, must be treated as a special form of firepower. The King Tiger was put out of action nor did it surrender or retreat from its position due to superior maneuvering on the Sherman crew's part, but because the Sherman fired (don't forget that part), and then rammed the KT in order to create mechanical damage. Without it the KT would eventually have destroyed the Sherman

I don't want to resort to sophistry to defend my position. But I stand by it that maneuver alone will not win you a single battle.

Maneuver and firepower are inseparable sides of the same coin, the difference lies in which one you treat as means, and which is purpose.

The "attritionists" will want to maneuver his forces in order to apply firepower so that he can eliminate the enemy's means of physical resistance. The "maneuver warrior" will apply firepower whenever it is needed to get his forces into motion in the hope of a decapitation strike, knowing that the enemy without proper leadership and supply cannot bring his physical means of resistance into play in a meaningful manner. It's like sword or poison. You can chop off the limbs of your opponent (and unless it's the Black Knight from Monty Python's, your opponent will quickly accede you victory), or you apply that dose of nerve toxin to paralyze your enemy. He still has his limbs but he can't use them anymore.

Maneuver warfare has the potential to end a war quicker with fewer losses on both sides. But it's more of a philosophy and mindset and not such much a receipe for guaranteed success on the battlefield. And in any case you must strike at some point. It may be a minimalist strike in comparison to the attritionist's method. You may not need a bloodmill to wear down your enemy's resistance, but still you need to strike hard at some point, and be it just to rupture the supply chain and the chain of command. Fast maneuver helps you to achieve confusion, but confusion alone cannot guarantee victory. Imagine Guderian in 1940 not to head for the channel, but instead turn south towards Paris. It would not have gotten him anywhere even if the French had never bothered to launch a counterattack. Even if, by some magical method, he would have had the gasoline to drive all the way to Marseille and back with his army without firing his guns, France would not have surrendered. It was the physical elimination of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk (by abandoning their equipment) that broke the back of the French army - the confusion caused by the rapid advance certainly helped to make them feel more defeated than they actually were. Rapid maneuver may help to pave the way to victory by demoralization and confusion, but without at least occasional demonstration of firepower nobody will surrender, just because you're driving in circles around him.

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Ssnake nailed it.

In practice, attrition and maneuver warfare have no clear boundaries. One cannot get into battle considering one type of warfare excluding the other.

Indeed, Simpkin in "Race to the Swift" points out exactly that "two sides of the same coin" aspect.

Robert Leonhard in his "Fighting by Minutes" even argues that if you want to wage battle in a "maneuveristic" way, you will eventually have to rely on pure and sheer attrition at several points. See the chapter "The Two Phases of Conflict", where he writes as a final note:

(text in italics is mine based in previous passages in the same chapter)

In essence, today's military professional must fight according to the logic of the Roman legionary. The Roman soldier was adept with both his shield and his sword. His doctrine employed both. The shield was meant to secure the attack of the sword. The logic of the shield was metal-to-metal contact (subjective warfare,like-fighting-like as tanks vs tanks or infantry vs infantry, AKA the big no no of maneuver warfare). The sword, on the other hand, was meant to execute the decisive stroke against the body of the foe. The logic of the sword was metal to-flesh contact (objective warfare fighting between unlikes, like tanks vs artillery or tanks vs infantry, AKA dislocating the enemy ). The legionary relied on both ideas to survive and conquer.

Very nice thread BTW.

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To me

Blitzkrieg is the willingness to trade a portion of your potential firepower and information , in exchange of more speed.

Of course as others said, everybody needs to use firepower under any theory. The idea is that under blitzkrieg you count on going with less (firepower and information) but still be able to overpower your enemy because

1. He also has less information (operationally speaking) and the simple fact that you go faster than him adds more uncertainty to his side. So although you accept higher level of uncertainty, you still aim towards information dominance over the enemy

2. He also has less firepower cause he lacks information and time to concentrate it against you. Again you aim to overpower him at a location of your choice , and although you traded a portion of firepower for speed, the simple fact that you have the initiative to choose where to fight and speed of execution, gives you the time advantage of concentrating superior firepower over him before he applies counter-measures.

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Posted by pamak

Blitzkrieg is the willingness to trade a portion of your potential firepower and information , in exchange of more speed.

It's a lot more than that. It covers a lot of things, a number of which I'm still trying to comprehend, but I assume everyone else can enlighten you.

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There's a lot more to nearly everything. But I think that he captured the fundamental principle/idea behind the strategy just nicely...?

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Read this in a book recently:

Tactics - Knowing what to do when there is something to do.

Strategy- Knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.

From the Novel "Eight" by Author Katherine Neville.

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Not necessarily. Firepower doesn't have to be downgraded for blitzkrieg to work. After all, Guderian listed firepower as second only to mobility for his tanks. Guderian had wanted a 50mm gun for the PzKw III in the years before WWII, but it wasn't available, which was the only reason that the early PzKw III had a 37mm gun, the standard caliber of German anti-tank guns. And after France fell, the Germans put a high priority to developing the 50mm gun, which is something that doesn't seem to fit with pamak's belief that firepower is traded for mobility in blitzkrieg. Especially since the Germans didn't entirely redesign the PzKw III for the 50mm gun; they just threw it in.

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Firepower is traded to mobility insofar as you emphasize speed and maneuver over battle with high attrition. You don't seek battle where the enemy is strongest but where he is weak, therefore you don't bring all the firepower to bear that you could if you would move slower. At least that's the way how I understood the original argument.

You seem to have interpreted with the focus on the actual equipment, and I think that this is a bit too narrow in this context.

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In the same manner artillery and airpower need to be credible threat to disrupt operations, but the threat of their employment is often much more disruptive to the threatened force than the actual amount of damage they could cause if they were expended.

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I know I was being that narrow, because I thought pamak was being that narrow. Now are you happy?:P:smilelove-1:

Posted by GH_Lieste

In the same manner artillery and airpower need to be credible threat to disrupt operations, but the threat of their employment is often much more disruptive to the threatened force than the actual amount of damage they could cause if they were expended.

My thoughts on warfare in general exactly.:)

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I did not want to make it sound narrow. That is why i used the word "potential firepower".

The less time you have ,the less fire you can apply using the same exact number and types systems .

It is not just the fact that acting fast you gather less equipment overall . It is not only about the number of fire systems you can bring to the battlefield. It is more general including things like, less supply available, no time available to establish common survey, register and so on that make the already available fire systems apply less firepower .

A single artillery piece for example has a "potential firepower" which is a "ranged value". Acting slower in general has the effect that you are able to get the higher range value while acting faster gives you values of the lower range.

However, as i explained before the benefits of blitzkrieg approach come from other sources.

During wwi, lot of firepower was applied to overcome trenches and machine guns, and this is understandable considering that tanks were either not available to assist for the most part of the war or were very unreliable.

However, days were required to bring all this impressive firepower towards the enemy . At the same time you delivered this firepower, you also delivered a warning about your intentions and by the time you started moving forward you had an enemy who had much less uncertainty about your actions and much time to apply countermeasures and beat your attack.

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Posted by pamak

During wwi, lot of firepower was applied to overcome trenches and machine guns, and this is understandable considering that tanks were either not available to assist for the most part of the war or were very unreliable.

Yeah, and as we saw during the First Battle of the Somme, the bombardment was virtually for naught thanks to German dugouts.

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I bet the survivors of the intense shelling have a different opinion whether it was for naught. But it certainly was way less effective than the conventional theory predicted. Armies during WW1 experimented with different tactics, short shellings immediately before an attack included (and they were found to be almost as effective as day-long heavy shellings since the majority of casualties occurs in the initial volleys before everybody disappears into hideouts). In addition the light shellings made it less difficult for the attacker to move.

The biggest obstacle to return to a maneuver war however were the limitations to command and communications. Blitzkrieg strategy requires the coordination of large maneuver bodies as much as it does depend on the principle of recon pull, Auftragstaktik, initiative, and aggressiveness of military leaders at all levels. In the industrial age messengers and land lines did not allow more than what was achieved during WW1. The madness of the situation can be estimated from the simple fact that at the west front about 95% of the German army's combat strength was concentrated on a 600km long and 7km deep frontline reaching from the North Sea to the Alps. In order to achieve a real breakthrough you not only needed to overrun the first, second, and third trench system, but reach the artillery positions to the rear before they could be pulled back. Only if you managed to capture the artillery position on a front width of about 20km so that flanking artillery firing position could no longer threaten your center of advance it was possible to exploit surch a breakthrough. Needless to say that these holes were never punched as deep and as wide - unless General Monash led the ANZAC corps, and unless tanks became available in numbers and were employed in masses. Unfortunately it took until Summer 1918 before this combination of leadership skill and new technologies was available.

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Unfortunately it took until Summer 1918 before this combination of leadership skill and new technologies was available.

I wouldn't say that tank technology contributed to the outcome of WWI. Tanks back then were barely able to move on a road let alone in the field, and the attrition rate between mechanical breakdowns and not being able to outrun a mortar shelling usually meant that a small fraction of a given tank force would still be in action after 48 hours. Cambrai is a good example - the tank attack foundered after a couple days and the German counterattack took back all the gains plus some.

The technology that contributed to WWI was for attack by fire, no longer attack by mass. It was in that concept that field guns were traded for howitzers and MGs became more useful.

I would also say that the blitzs of early WWII came out of this concept as well - a fast attack by fire is great against an unprepared enemy so long as the enemy is not allowed to bring concentrated fire to bear. WWII also had many examples of a blitz attack expending its entire force for no gain.

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I don't think so. The reasons pressuring the Entente to develop the tank in the first place were still valid (too high loss rates for sustained offensives with its repercussion on general morale).

In itself the massed tank attack at Amiens in August '18 certainly wasn't the battle to decide WW1 but it seriously shook the German high command. Not only had it become obvious by July that despite the Rapallo peace and its elimination of the East Front the remaining forces of the German army were insufficient to win the war against France. It also reestablished confidence among the soldiers of the Entente that they could win the war (another morale booster were the US sending fresh troops into France, of course, though I have my doubts that their impact at operational level was even remotely close to its strategic implications).

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I know this thread is a few weeks old but I wanted to add my two cents on this;

Obviously we are all aware the game in question is not Steel Beasts. I really don't see how you confused the two? Anyway "base raping" is basically the same thing as spawn killing. If there is a legitimate target or objective in the base, then "raping" it is fine. If it only serves as a spawning point, then spaming it is typically a "noob" thing to do. Poorly made maps facilitate spawn killing.

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