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Attack and Defend: Concepts and Command Philosophy.

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  • [GUIDE] Attack and Defend: Concepts and Command Philosophy.

    From the perspective of a seasoned commander/squad leader and veteran player (2+ years in ARMA 2) and playing since 0.3 in Project Reality, I give you my thoughts on leadership in the new Attack and Defend mode.

    Disclaimer: These are my opinions but they are based on sound military principle.


    Warfare as a tumult of nations or a strife between groups is reduced to a series of battles. PR: ARMA2 is a game which occurs in a fictional battlespace. Battles in PR: ARMA2 follow the actions of an understrength combined-arms company or a group of fireteam to squad sized detachments from mixed platoons. This mixture of capabilities lends itself to unique combinations which in many cases will defy conventional military practices in well-supported operations. (Such as you might encounter playing against AI in Co-op.)

    By nature as a team vs. team game where outcomes are subject to the decisive strife between individuals there is heavy emphasis from a strategic perspective on the unexpected or unforeseen occurrence. I will refer to this henceforth as the ‘fog of war’.

    Battles are generally decided by prevailing in small-scale combats at the tactical level in a majority of cases. In cases where there is an objective to be seized, prosecuting these small-scale combats may be detrimental to the outcome. There is a secondary level of war; the operational level, which determines the means by which tactical objectives can be prosecuted. Logistics, sustainment (reinforcement) and manoeuvre fall into the operational sphere. Logistics and sustainment in the operational capacity are in essence mathematical equations for military success. This equation looks something like: Time to delivery multiplied with available supply of material divided by the number of affected or relevant personnel. Obviously this is not the sole determining effect of success but it will improve the probability of success.

    In PR: ARMA 2, these numbers and probabilities are calculated into the ticket system. Loss of materiel or men reduces the available reserve of tickets. This causes protracted or decisive battle to be particularly damaging to the probability of positive outcomes for a team. This also means that good logistics which reduce the detrimental impact of decisive combat on the ticket count increases the relevant probability of positive outcomes.

    There is a tertiary level of warfare which is in essence, purely statistical. This is the strategic level. While the tactical engrosses itself with the end and the operational concerns itself with the means, the strategic offers us our justification for martial strife. The need to take and hold a town in order to win, the need to eliminate an enemy position or the need to clear a road so that operational logistics can move through a battlespace are all strategic objectives. In PR: Arma2 the overall strategic objectives are defined on the map in advance (control points, flags, caches) but it is strategic thought which will lead squad-leaders or the commander into pursuing those objectives which are most advantageous to producing superior numerical results.

    And it is the squad leader whose role it is to operate in the sphere between the tactical and the operational ensuring that maneuver, sustainment and information sharing are all sufficient to carry out the mission. It is the commander whose role it is to operate between the operational and strategic spheres dictating the best methods of ensuring operational capabilities support strategic objectives.


    Attack and Defend:

    Offensive Approach-

    Auftragstaktik: While organization is key to a successful attack, subordinate initiative is a deciding factor for an attacking force because individuals or small groups can react much more rapidly than a large group waiting for orders from one individual who has only a singular perspective on the battle. At all times and within reason, power sharing within the squads especially between experienced or knowledgable members should be exercised.

    Opener: The most critical moments in an attack and defend match are the first few minutes before battle has been joined. This is an opportunity for attacking squad-leaders to deploy as RAPIDLY as possible to the target zones. This means skipping kit selection or squad organization until after the initial deployment. Failure to sieze the initiative in this critical phase can and almost certainly will result in significant and costly losses later in the round. At this time the squad leader must think in a purely strategic sense. Operational sustainment is unnecessary in the opening phases. That is not to say that it should not be planned for but it is of significantly lower importance than taking ground while it is available.

    Tactical maneuver principles are unnecessary and detrimental as part of an effective opener because moving slowly into anticipated contact will both limit the ability to decisively sieze objectives but will also increase the likelihood of enemy forces taking the initiative. Remember that in attack and defend the enemy will always be on the defensive and will be unable to recapture what has been secured by the advancing offensive. There is literally no need to dig in or adopt a defensive posture.

    While the first few points will fall uncontested it is a guarantee that contact will be established between friendly and enemy elements in the vicinity of one of the decisive objectives. If a unit moves slowly into contact using tactical principles like bounding overwatch or limited movement in favour of improved intelligence gathering it is highly likely that when combat is decided, the unit will be moving into a prepared enemy position incurring high rates of casualty or even being halted in their advance. By always pursuing the advance until combat has been established you keep the enemy on their back foot and increase the probability that when contact is established it will result in an equivalent ‘fog of war’ based on the uncertainty caused by sudden, unexpected contact with the enemy.

    Continuing the Assault:
    At this point and at this point only, when contact has been established between rival parties and information about enemy movement or intent becomes more clear, the attacking unit should adopt at tactical posture and respond to contact or withdraw from it, depending on the relative balance of power and capabilities. In simultenaity to the tactical engagement or withdrawal, sustainment, logistics and heavy assets should be dedicated to the positions of greatest need.

    Maxim for the Attacker: Tempo, Tempo, Tempo, Tempo.

    Loss tolerance for a unit which is ‘leading the charge’ should be very high and complete elimination of the unit is highly likely. HOWEVER, the loss of a leading element in attack and defend is superior to allowing the enemy to fortify or prepare their position. If you keep the enemy on their back foot after seizing the initiative strategically, moving rapidly to contact and striving to overrun their initial positions you will be able to use operational tempo (arrival of logistics, sustainment or heavy assets) to support tactical operation and achieve victory. As I will elaborate in the defensive strategy section which follows, the worst case scenario has the attacking force moving in tactical formation against a fortified or prepared position incurring heavy losses. This scenario sees battle joined in an attritional and not maneuver based model which pits maximum force against maximum force (trying to take a hill, attacking a well defended forward base, clearing a town).

    For the attacker, moving in a combined force against a single objective defended by a relatively equivalent force which is imminently expecting their survival is the least desirable and most damaging possible approach.


    Defensive Approach-

    Behfelstaktik: Order-based command which prioritizes executive order in order to achieve or maintain an objective. Initiative is discouraged and units are kept in relatively close order so as to maximize defensive capabilities at any position of strength. Pursuing a retreating enemy or sallying out of a position of strength are discouraged unless the overall commander dictates that it is an advantageous moment for counter maneuver or a counter-offensive.

    In Attack and Defend, the defender has by far the easier task and the greater certainty.
    1) They must only hold ground or outlast their enemy.
    2) They know that the enemy, seeking victory will have to attack.

    The combination of these truths leads to two divergent but equally viable approaches.

    Types of Defense:

    At the tactical level, the requirements of maneuver for the defenders are limited. There is defense in reserve (The establishment of fortified positions like bases in positions which encourage or invite the strength of an attack) and defense in depth (the establishment of operating posts in forward positions which seek to delay or divert the strength of an attack).
    Defense in depth is a more cunning concept which seeks to harass enemy sustainment efforts, gather intelligence about their tactical maneuver once combat has been joined or their movement and disposition before combat.
    A combination of these strategies is optimal but depending on capabilities and terrain either one can exclusively be utilized by skilled defenders to prevail.

    Maxim for the Defender: If you build it, they will come.

    On Fortification:

    A wall, sandbags and static weapons emplacements do not just protect the camp from armed attack. They actually create a position of strength which an attacker can be encouraged to ‘break themselves’ upon if used correctly. Attention to fortifications of secondary importance will draw the enemy’s focus away from a main attack and even if the fortification is lost after some struggle, a fall-back position with good operational logistics can always be re-established to continue the defense in reserve.

    Risks and Mitigation:

    The greatest risk for the defence is overextension. This is establishing a position of strength too far in advance for it to be supplied or reinforced. If an operating post in this situation is attacked there is a high likelihood it will be cut off or surrounded.

    Defensive works should only be constructed at a time and place which is both strategically valuable (overwatching a main approach to objective, blocking an objective or supporting an objective). Like the attacker, the defender must deploy rapidly without thought to organization or equipment until provisions for immediate defence and sustainment of said defence have been established. Use of coordinating commands, intelligence gathering techniques and supporting fires particularly from weapon emplacements and indirect fire elements will allow the defender to minimize potential casualties.

    Infantry engagement in the defence should only be committed when under direct threat because once engaged, it will be very hard to move a defensive force any direction but backwards. Infantry should be well prepared when combat is joined with rally points and a casualty-plan in order to minimize the potential ticket losses from unnecessary fatalities and disorganization. Vehicles, particularly logistical and transportation should be stored in locations that afford the maximum possible protection.

    Counter Maneuver:

    It is advantageous to combine the defence in depth and defence in reserve strategies with a tactical rapid-reaction capability. Keeping a unit equipped with organic transportation in reserve, particularly at a fall-back fortification will allow a commander to delegate a fresh and battle-ready element to find, fix or flank an enemy which threatens the forward defensive work.

    A final note on fortifications: Establishing fortifications that are mutually supportive (can dust each other off if necessary) is of great value and establishes a greatly improved zone-of-control over the visible area.



    Because attack and defend is a new and deceptively simple game-mode, it is necessary to establish the precise concepts of military theory and command philosophy which contribute to fighting a set offensive or defensive battle. A careful reading of these suggestions is recommended for any prospective commanders or squad-leaders in attack and defend. If clarification is needed on any of these points please feel free to contact me and please feel free to post with anything you think should be added or changed.

  • #2
    Re: Attack and Defend: Concepts and Command Philosophy.

    I've skimmed the Offensive section right now in my spare time and must say I will certainly learn from my mistakes last night where I spent too much time securing assets and organizing the squad. Instead I should have ordered everyone in a gun car and charged into a specific point with them hoping that our armor and logistics would cover and secure the route behind us.

    So far very good read.

    I do think I'd add a section on FiST elements. The mortar system placeholder is currently very easy to use and the attacking team MUST utilize mortars and shelling to be effective.




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