Combined Arms

    While every army has units of different types in different categories, putting them all together into a coherent combined arms force is more of a necessity than an interesting challenge. You may be asking yourself, "What is combined arms"? Combined arms is the method of utilizing the individual strengths of each type of unit in such as way as to provide your force with the best possible methods of dealing with enemy threats at all times. To put it another way, you don't want your tanks rolling through forests without infantry protection, and you don't want your infantry crossing that 2-mile-wide meadow land without some armor support. Let me give you an example.
    Let's say your mission is to attack, and the main enemy position has tanks, antitank guns, infantry and some bunkers and pillboxes. Would you just roll up with a platoon of tanks? Or run towards the position with a company of infantry alone? Of course, you wouldn't. The strength of infantry is to deal with other infantry, right? So you'll want to have some infantry to go in. There are better infantry killers out there, like direct-fire infantry guns, but they are naked and defenseless by themselves. If the infantry units can get close to the hill, they can allow a section of infantry guns to pound away at the more resilient defenders, like the bunkers. But what about the enemy tanks up there? Neither my infantry or the guns can adequately deal with the tanks. So, naturally, you'll decide that you've got to have some antitank capability in your attack force. Because you're attacking, tanks would be the best choice, but if you don't have any you may be able to transport some AT-guns within range to deal with this threat. If you have some other, general purpose firepower like artillery and air strikes to keep all the threats suppressed, this will make your attacking force's job that much easier.
    In the combined arms equation, infantry and armor are the two most important factors. Tanks can usually deal with most hard targets, while the infantry has some degree of capability against unarmed or soft targets. Exceptions are fortifications and mines, which only artillery, big direct fire guns and Engineers can deal with adequately. Other problems include small, fast-moving armored vehicles which tanks can't hit too easily and which your infantry can't deal with at all unless they get close enough. Does this mean that your tactical group(s) always have to have a mix of forces? No. It means that whatever threat you encounter, you will be able to bring up the best capability you possess to deal with it in the shortest period of time. Armor, for example, frequently operates independent of any infantry, but they can move in and out of situations rapidly. If your armored force stumbles on a strong antitank position, you could just back away and bring in some infantry support. If your infantry are facing an armored threat, your tanks should be able to come to the rescue in time to avert disaster. There are cases where you'll want these elements to work closely together, but there are also cases where you'll want them to be operating as separate teams in your combined arms attack or defense plan.
    What you want to avoid is the frustration of having your force capabilities so widely separated that each cannot support one another or deal with a truly combined arms threat they may encounter. In a game situation, the easiest way to insure that you have some combined arms capability is to have some infantry elements operating near your armored units, or to just mount infantry on the tanks directly (if you are on the offensive). This will keep your tanks protected to a large extent from the unexpected assault from hidden enemy infantry, and keep your tanks free to deal with enemy tank forces, instead of expending most of their firepower fighting off infantry. At close ranges, infantry are a deadly threat to armor, especially in the later war years when many of them were carrying antitank rocketry of one form or another. Even if they don't kill the tank, enough rifle and machine gun fire can suppress even the most experienced crew in the best tank and leave them wide open to an attack by enemy tank and antitank units from the flanks. In fact, this is a useful tactic for your infantry forces if a few enemy tanks are rolling up. Tanks crews are vulnerable to suppression from all kinds of fire, even fire that can't but once in a million times do any damage. Your infantry can suppress them simply by expending an enormous amount of rifle and machine-gun fire against the hull, suppressing them to oblivion, and then, if you have some antitank teams, they will be able to fire without so much as a whisper of bad language from the enemy. This tactic can only work against a limited number of enemy tanks at a time, simply because, in most cases, it requires so much firepower to suppress a tank. Some players will complain that this aspect of the game is unrealistic, but I disagree. I can tell you that there is no way to determine where all the fire is coming from, and you get mighty nervous about the possibility that it may be from a group of soldiers nearby, that have an attached bazooka team with them.
    A Combined Arms force consists of a dedicated source of reconnaissance information, an infantry capability, an antitank capability, a mobile offense or counterattack capability, and a general source of support suppression firepower such as artillery, air strikes or heavy direct-fire guns, as well as a command infrastructure. A threat which includes mines or fortifications or both will also benefit greatly from an Engineer capability. Defensive operations are less complex, so reconnaissance and offensive capability is not as important but still valuable. Sometimes, certain elements of the Combined Arms force may have multiple missions so that each part of the Combined Arms Doctrine has some degree of resources committed to it (just not dedicated all the time). You may, for example, frequently have some lead infantry elements performing the reconnaissance duty as well as the infantry capability. Dedicated reconnaissance forces may also have to provide reconnaissance capability to several different tactical groups, and may at some point be converted to a support role once the enemy's main positions are located.
    What does all of this mean in game terms? I really hate to give hard and fast rules here, because everyone has their own ideas about what works best, and many of them are the right idea for the particular situation. However, since you insist, here are a few pointers and suggestions:

   1. Keep your armor within 1 or 2 mins. of movement from a substantial force of infantry. On defense, position the armor in such a way as to insure that friendly infantry will be able to detect advancing infantry and protect your tanks from infantry assaults, or such that your armor can move rapidly to an enclave or line protected by infantry.

   2. Antitank guns are excellent supports of both infantry-based and armor-based forces. However, because they are so vulnerable to fire, they should be kept behind other forces most of the time unless there is an excellent flanking position away from expected direct lines of enemy approach.

   3. A dedicated reconnaissance element, will be invaluable in determining the enemy's choice of routes to the objectives. As well as yours.

   4. Consider your resources of general support and suppression category. This may be as easy as having artillery, but when resources are scarce small infantry guns, mortars and even machine-gun sections can fulfill this role. Machine-gun teams on defense are useful either ahead of your infantry, partially providing some reconnaissance, or behind where their weapons can easily suppress enemy units which get close to your main line.

   5. Don't lose sight of your goals. Remember the goal is to win, and this is done primarily by taking the objectives. When you are moving or firing, ask yourself if it contributes to the mission goals. This applies both to your mission as commander and that of winning the battles, but also to the combined arms elements of your forces. Don't start using your reconnaissance forces as infantry killers just because you can, relate the use of your forces to the overall goals and the unit's assigned part of the overall goals.

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