A well-timed and placed counterattack can make the difference between winning and losing. You can get into situations where you have a counterattack chance whether you are on attack or defense. However, the concept of Counterattack, is most common when your mission is defensive in nature. The concept of Counterattack consists primarily of holding a mobile force in reserve, and using it at a time when the enemy has exposed themselves to attack by exhausting their own units, or moving them into bad positions, or are just so disorganized that they cannot provide adequate support to each other. The appearance of your fresh, coordinated counterattack force will eliminate their weaker units, strip their strong units of support, and restore a position of yours which may have been threatened. Counterattack reserves should be centrally placed if you are unsure of the enemy's line of advance, or placed in positions out of view on their flanks if your have some degree of certainty that they will come from a certain direction. It takes discipline to pull a mobile force off the front-line and put them in some area where they won't be able to add their firepower to a kill zone you want to set up, or to a main defense line.
But they can be more effective than these other methods for two reasons: You may enter the fray from an unexpected angle, giving you flank or rear shots against their vehicles, and you will arrive fresh and fit while the enemy has already expended themselves against a different defending force. Let me put it to you this way: Would you rather have 4 Tigers with only 2 shots available each against a position held by some infantry squads and a couple of antitank guns, or would you rather have 4 Shermans with 6 shots available each firing on the flank and rear of those same worn-out Tigers. I know its a tough call (after all, we're talking about Tigers, here), but in most cases the Shermans will probably prevail. If you had left the Shermans up on the hill with your main force, some of them would already be bar-b-queued, and those remaining, if they weren't routing, would be in sorry shape. It is not uncommon to place tanks and other vehicles behind crests, so that they will be fresh at the proper time. Doing things like this are all well and good, but it won't matter if the enemy hasn't been engaged at all at the time you counterattack.
Essential to a good counterattack is that the enemy has already been engaged against another group of defenders, become somewhat worn down, and possibly maneuvered to expose their vehicles to flank, rear or top hits. The tactics of counterattack can even be taken to an extreme and yet be successful. I've witnessed defenses with NO objectives defended, not even the most remote one. In such a case, the entire defending force becomes a counterattack force, and they set up a kill zone completely covering the most remote objective. When the enemy enters, they'll take all the objectives and basically stop moving. This means that only a small portion of their total force is at the final objective, while you, secretly, have massed your entire force nearby. Suddenly, the trap springs and your whole force moves into counterattack, retaking objective after objective. The enemy is usually too disorganized and your forces moving too fast for him to react with a cohesive defense.
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