Deploying for attack and speed of advance

The point of delaying actions is to threaten the advancing hostile force enough to force it from a marching stance into a combat stance. The vehicles leave the road, deploy into combat formations, probe, use otherwise ignored routes to flank the defender and so on. All this takes a lot more time than to keep advancing along a road. The delaying force then retires before it gets involved in too much combat and ideally the next delaying force repeats the trick so the original one can prepare another such delay in its back.

source U.S. Army FM 3-90.2
(It's a too linear thinking version of a delaying action.)
The training (and technical communication & navigation capabilities) of the attacking force is hugely influential for how quickly it can deploy for battle (and revert to marching order). 

Another hugely important factor is whether the attacking force is armour-centric or infantry-centric. 
Armour can be very quick in such actions. Infantry-centric forces have a much greater difference between road march speed and battle movement speed. Infantry-centric forces may use their line of sight firepower (including from wheeled IFVs and missiles) together with direct fires to defeat defenders, but it should under most circumstances take much longer than for a competent armoured force.

An important difference between infantry-centric and tank-centric forces is how selective infantry has to be in regard to choice of routes. It has to exploit the microterrain for cover and concealment,  and any of their lightly protected armoured vehicles would have to do so (if capable) to a greater degree than tanks, too. The greater stealthiness requirement slows down infantry even more in addition to its lower nominal speed limit.

A delaying action should thus be much more effective against infantry-centric forces than against tank-centric forces. A tank force might be delayed for minutes when the very same delaying effort could delay an infantry-centric force by an hour. Moreover, the road march speed of an infantry-centric force (which typically lacks tracked vehicles) is usually higher than that of a tank-centric force.

A slowed (and more or less slowly weakened) brigade or battlegroup would often be a good target for indirect fires, a flank attack or even a pincer attack. Slowness is self-defeating in mobile warfare.

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I've seen people trying to justify brigade designs that lack main battle tanks or powerful infantry fighting vehicles by pointing out their (notional) ability to defeat tank brigades with missile firepower.
Well, that's nice to have.*
I still cannot see how an infantry-centric force could possibly advance quickly against a competent and intact hostile force of half its manpower size. Both infantry-centric and armour-centric brigades should be able to slow down an advancing infantry-centric brigade or two in most Eastern European terrains.

I don't trust in-service ATGMs. Formations without tanks would still be tactically slower and more vulnerable than formations without tanks even if ATGMs work as advertised. It's this slowness of infantry-centric land battle designs that disqualifies the fashionable no-tracks brigade types for mobile land warfare under many if not most conditions.**


*: Well, it's nice if you really think your enemy doesn't have the means to defeat your ATGM guidance after its operating principle has been public knowledge for 30+ years. And then you also need to trust the ATGM warhead.
**: There may be situations in which an all-wheeled battlegroup successfully executes a deep raid in modern chevauchée fashion. It would be essential to not face a powerful aerial threat and to avoid getting caught up in battle with strong hostile forces. Essentially, their reaction to a threat would need to be evasion, not deployment for battle. This would be an available course of action in some circumstances (only).


Specialised forces

I observed something peculiar about specialised forces in strategy gaming (such as WITP:AE) and history: They are very rarely where you need them, even if you try hard to bring them into the best position.

The Japanese torpedo cruisers Kitakami and Oi of WW2 are examples: They were capable of launching dozens of the most fearsome torpedoes of WW2 each. Their torpedo firepower could have defeated the Royal Navy's Home Fleet at Jutland. They did never launch such a salvo. In fact, they weren't even where they would have had the best odds to do so - at the Solomons.

The Italian ramming ship Affondatore was designed with one purpose in mind; sink a powerful warship by ramming. It was present at the battle at Lissa and there was a ship sunk by ramming, but Affondatore didn't ram any ship, ever.

The British battlecruisers of the Furious class were built with some crazy Baltic invasion scheme in mind - and never entered the Baltic.

The early battlecruisers were all about defeating armoured cruisers with superior primary artillery at long ranges - with dozens of battlecruisers, there was but one action ever where such a thing happened.

The French battlecruisers Dunkerque and Strasbourg were designed to sink German Deutschland class heavy cruisers, but they never faced any.

The Deutschland class itself was built for commerce raiding on the oceans. Fast enough to run away from battleships, strong enough to defeat cruisers. The entire class saw very few successful patrols and the only action against cruisers was followed by the scuttling of the Graf Spee itself.

Surcouf was a submarine with extraordinary gun armament - and never used for anything, really.

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These were examples from the naval realm.
There were also examples from land warfare. Leaving technical oddities aside, entire light (Jäger / infantry) divisions were raised by the Wehrmacht for combat at the Caucasus. That didn't happen.

Specialised artillery divisions were raised to lend extra artillery firepower to breakthrough operations, sieges or crisis areas. They were wasted as frontline divisions instead, overstretching their weak infantry component.

Mountain warfare and paratroops formations of WW2 mostly fought like infantry divisions, albeit often in swampy or woodland terrain.

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The one area where highly specialised assets appear to be mostly successful and even often employed according to their purpose seems to be air warfare. The extreme mobility of air power and by comparison static nature of its targets appears to be an important factor. It enables the mission planning to send the specialised assets to where and when they can serve their purpose.

Many specialised air power assets such as jamming aircraft or reconnaissance aircraft tend to be highly dependent on a technological advantage for their missions, though. Old reconnaissance aircraft that became too slow have failed in WW2. A reconnaissance aircraft that gets its imaging radar jammed would fail today. A jamming aircraft that fails to jam effectively is pointless.

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Specialisation appears to be less successful whenever it's directed against few hostile forces or for a relatively small area. Highly specialised minesweepers that faced hundreds of thousands of naval mines were a very successful asset in WW2, for example.

Long story short, I feel we should guard ourselves against the strong pursuit of highly specialised assets at least if they are meant to face a small quantity of threats. Versatile units tended to be more worthwhile and mostly better-suited for what actual action they saw, and I suppose this may continue.
We cannot avoid specialisation entirely, but I suspect we go too much for it if we don't deliberately  guard ourselves against an overemphasis on specialisation.



The West is naked, and everyone sees it

There's a torrent building up slowly but steadily: A torrent of articles that point out the failure of the West, its star industries and institutions, to rise to the pandemic challenge. There was an earlier wave of more or less humorous content on humour website about how the U.S. fails to rise to the challenge and save earth as it does in Hollywood movies all the time. Hollywood disaster movies usually have some scientist who doesn't get listened to until the disaster is happening, then he gets listened to, the president rises to the challenge, some genius idea, disaster defeated. Oh yes, and New York gets pummeled every time.
The Cassandra aspect and the NY pummeling were the only things that happened for real (that bis, only the bad aspects did happen).

But it's not only the U.S. that's failing grossly. The left wing-controlled Canada has failed to bend the curve of infections and is still in the linear growth phase as well (as of today). European countries fail with characteristic diversity of outcomes, and Russia fails, no matter how many shirtless photos its autocrat-in-chief has made.

I do suppose that the roots of failure are not merely about cultural issues with masks, though this added difficulty. Likewise, the loud but small minority of super egoists and anarchists who resist united action against the pandemic doesn't seem to be the driving failure to me, either.

My suspicion is rather that a strength of the West happens to be a weakness in this particular event: The Western focus on cooperation and consensus proves to be a weakness this time, as it has accustomed politicians and others to small steps rather than to decisive action. Now we do need decisive action, but our political leadership and public service are simply unsuitable for this.
This doesn't apply to the Americans and British, who famously rejected this style of policymaking. They fail for a different reason. They elected a clown, so they get a circus - it's that simple.

The real question in regard to defence is whether this show of weakness undermines our deterrence. I was pleasantly surprised by the American's ability to develop and quickly field MRAPs by the thousands in the 2000s despite their rotten procurement bureaucracy. The current crisis does now undermine this signal. Maybe the ventilator and mask production mobilization will at least signal an ability to respond with large-scale production within three months after the need becomes obvious.

The pandemic crisis also suggests that devastating economic and cultural warfare against the West may be as simple as manipulating some ordinary virus to create another pandemic or two.

The one upside that I see in this is a bit cynical; the Russians appear to fail even more badly (and cannot hide it any more). So basically the only somewhat capable potential threat to Europe in Europe is looking even worse (and badly hurt by the concurrent oil price collapse).

Still, it's a totally unsatisfactory picture in my opinion. Sadly, the rally-around-the-flag aspect and the loud noises of the moron faction diminish the chance for real, well-aimed improvements.


P.S.: I cautioned about what became a pandemic on February 1st and sounded full alarm on February 24th. This was without unusual access and without being in a job that would require me to care about public health. My dissatisfaction with the policies and their timing is rooted in part on my opinion that public knowledge suffices to do better than what the politicians did. The hesitation may have been an attempt to reduce the economic damage, but  the lack of early warning to the industries and lack of early prioritised orders for critical supplies indicates that the decision-making lag was really as long as it seems.


Link drop May 2020

A website dedicated to Soviet Armed Forces 1945-1091
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The question our executive branch politicians have to answer before the next elections is "Why didn't we have this by February already?!?".

The costs of the supplies are negligible, and all countries have enough unemployed people to provide the necessary labour.

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The U.S. had something similar in the Vietnam War era and I have long considered it a scandal that such tech (preferably coupled with a mobile ski jump ramp) isn't standard equipment in air forces. I suppose that's a result of the top bras' bias towards peacetime flying things.

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My question is: "How can a person possibly be so dumb to not see that this is an total moron? He is OBVIOUSLY dumber than an average 3rd grader. His knowledge on things has been displayed as irritatingly deficient again and again on utterly normal things to know. He didn't know that people died of the flu even though his grandfather did. "Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated." after claiming to have a plan that gives better care to more people for less money.

How can an adult be so stupid? I used to think that the crazies who sit on park benches and loudly argue with themselves are the most dysfunctional people not yet locket up in psychiatric wards, but apparently that was wrong.

They gave the nuclear codes to this horse crap version of a brain!

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The Onion

Look at the date.

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"5 lessons from World War II for the coronavirus response"

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I lost an entire article in April. It was scheduled, then suddenly I had another article scheduled twice for the same date with the same headline. I deleted one of the two copies and next day I noticed that the unrelated scheduled article was gone. That's a never seen before (my me) hiccup of blogger. Luckily, I wasn't fully convinced of the lost article's quality and had delayed its publication since February.

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This shall be a reminder that I never sided with the ammosexuals even when I wrote about guns.

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[German] www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/corona-pandemie-populismus-toetet-kolumne-a-00000000-0002-0001-0000-000170435611
Er verwendet das Wort "Populismus" und meint "Demagogerie", aber ansonsten 99% Zustimmung von mir.

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