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Just Jack

“Combined with Lord Moran’s principle that “A man’s courage is his capital, and he is always spending”, this produced a simple morale system showing both that “anyone can be brave for a short time”, and that everyone has a breaking point.”

“…S L A Marshall pointed out in “The Soldier’s Load”, fear and fatigue are fungible: tired men frighten more easily, and frightened men tire more easily.”
I agree with that conceptually, but my experience is that fear/fatigue doesn’t hit men in the middle of a firefight, but afterwards, and affects their willingness/ability to move on the next objective.  Just bringing that up from the standpoint of the limited duration firefight concept of a skirmish wargame.

Everyone has different expectation, desires, and experiences, so I’m not here to tell anyone they should or should not have variable movement (to be clear, I’m thinking in terms of skirmish games where individual men are activated and tracked, during the short duration of an actual firefight, not a ‘battle’ consisting of various, sequential firefights), and I think it has a place for extraordinary circumstances (let’s say a man tried to pick up an M2 HMG, the whole damn thing, call it 130 lbs, and move it by himself in a fight), but for an infantrymen moving and fighting with his T/O weapon, in the (assumed) short duration of a firefight, for whatever it may be worth to the readership, I disagree.  And a couple further points, in response:

“The game was also designed to educate people who have not tried it with real kit in the fresh air just how much crap an infantryman has to tote around.”


“My game was set in WW2; a modern game would be far crueller, as none of the crap infanteers had to carry in WW2 has gone away, and technology has added body armour, CamelBaks, personal-role radios, ECM, and all sorts of electric widgetry, which all requires loads of batteries.”
The statement that infantry carry a lot is true, but situational.  There is a tremendous difference between an administrative movement, carrying your bodyweight or more in gear, and dropping everything but ammo and grenades and moving into the assault, which is where I think we’d be in a skirmish game.  Even in an ambush scenario, it’s probable that the guys being ambushed are in a movement to contact posture with (significantly smaller and lighter) patrol packs, rather than carrying everything they own on their backs.  So this statement seems a little ‘apples vs oranges,’ to me.

“The failure to master this problem meant that Western infantry in Afghanistan practically lost the ability to do fire and movement…”
That is patently ridiculous, in my humble opinion, and if I’m overreacting to the ‘practically’ piece of that, if I’m missing context, or if that was simply misspoken, I apologize.

We could get into a discussion about all the times (and about who did/does, and didn’t/does not, exactly) fire and maneuver has been used, and I don’t disagree that with some Western elements fire and maneuver has fallen out of favor, but in my opinion that has more to do with rules of engagement and a doctrinal change to rely more upon supporting fires then traditional infantry tactics in order to lessen the likelihood of Western casualties, which we (or I, at least) first saw creep into Western lexicon in terms of “Force Protection.”  Things such as, “we won’t fly Apaches against Yugoslavia because they are more likely to get shot down than fast movers,” which has now turned into “if you’re caught in a far ambush, don’t establish a base of fire and maneuver an unengaged element onto the enemy’s position, instead, return fire with remote weapons, go firm until air arrives, then go conduct a BDA.”

There’s a difference between not having a capability, and having a capability but not exercising it.  And that has nothing to do with the amount of gear your average rifleman carries.

“…which would have been a real worry against a first-class enemy.”
It could be argued that you have it backwards: perhaps Western infantry are overloaded in Afghanistan because they were trained and equipped to deal with a first-class enemy, not an insurgent enemy.  And I would probably change “first class enemy” to “first world enemy,” as there are plenty of infantrymen that would rather go up against a conscript, inexperienced, mechanized army, unencumbered by the restrictions that naturally come with low intensity conflict in stage 4 and 5 operations, rather than an enemy that has decades of (collective) combat experience and knows to melt into the local populace then stand toe to toe.

Just my two cents.