On the Movement and Deployment of Forces.

There are many skills that a competent commander must have in order to maximize the use of his forces. These include such things as target selection, fire coordination, application of strengths on weaknesses, deployment and movement, and a wide host of other skills. This treatise will handle the latter set of these, namely deployment and movement, and how they relate to other facets of battle.

Firstly, there are a few fundamental principles which define the Ailarian way of war. These are:

NEVER MOVE unless there is a direct, tactical advantage to doing so. At first, this would imply that armies should remain static. This would only be true if, indeed, there were no possible tactical opportunities to be gained. As this is infrequently the case, it should be assumed that a command not to move unless it gains advantage should be looked upon as a command to move, so as to get an advantage, rather than to remain in place.

YOUR ENEMY MUST COME TO YOU if he is to do any damage, or accomplish a mission. Simply put, your enemies will always need to move closer to you to assault or to shoot, and the enemy will very infrequently (and only on the cause of your poor deployment) be able to sufficiently dismantle your forces, or complete objectives. He must destroy your forces, and to do this, he must move. Always remember that the destruction of your forces is almost always the enemy’s primary objective, even above that of the mission.

With these two rules, the first governing movement, and the second governing deployment, it is possible to do a great many tactical things. First, the first rule will be expounded on.

It should be noted that remaining still, is invariably the strongest form for your troops to be in. Weapons may be fired at longer ranges, and, in some cases, more accurately. As well, troops that remain still are more likely to remain in cover, which greatly increases their survivability. Finally, remaining still gives you a greater degree of control and stability on the battlefield. Thus, it should be noted that in most cases, it is better to simply remain still, than to move.

However, there are times when it is better to chose the weaker form of combat, that of attack, as the circumstances are such that through movement, you become STRONGER than the applied weakness. If such circumstances are not present (that is, if you did not create them yourself), then you simply weaken your forces without credit.

Let us examine, then, when the application of movement is preferable to that of defending a strong position. Generally, the way to increase your power is that of a trap. In this way, an enemy, whose range is shortened, and whose troops are more exposed, and more separate from each other, and less able to support each other can be met with a concentrated force with focused firepower and assault. In this way, the weakness provided by movement is counteracted by the amount of extra power given by the units that moved in for support.

In brief, then, the art of the trap is to focus your strength against a particular faction of the enemy’s force, which is, by nature made weaker through his advance.

There are three primary forms of entrapment. The first is the OPEN TRAP, also known as creating fire lanes. This trap is set in such a way that an enemy, through normal advancement (which, as per rule two is inevitable) allows you to focus your power against him without any movement on your own. This is, indeed, the most preferable form of trap, as it requires the least risk, the least exposure, the least weakening of your forces, and is, generally, the easiest to set up. Let us look at an example:

In this case, the enemy, in an attempt to root the soldiers out of the woods, has advanced from its own cover to attack. By doing this, the enemy unit has exposed itself to fire from the sentinel, which had previously been out of line of sight. In this way, the enemy has allowed you to focus your fire without even needing to move. You can see, then, how this is not only the safest trap, but as well the easiest to set up. Indeed, sometimes an encroaching enemy can fall into an open trap that you did not even purposefully set.

The second main type of trap is the CLOSED TRAP. The closed trap is a trap that requires the movement of your forces in order to “close” the trap on the enemy. In this case, units are kept in reserve (and preferably in cover or out of line of sight), as per an open trap. Then, when it is time, you move your forces in such a way where as you create new fire lanes that did not exist before, and so bring a great concentration of force on a unit that was previously safe.

In this example, we can see the enemy unit remaining in cover. At this point, the only viable target for the enemy unit’s advance is the infantry squad in the trees. Now, let us close our trap:

As we can see, through strategic movement, we have now greatly increased the amount of force that we are able to apply to the enemy unit. The unit which was just targeted by the infantry alone is now under fire from the sentinel and the command squad. Remember, that the command squad has lost its power (in the form of fewer pistol shots), but the ability to shoot at all much dwarfs the concern for the reduction in power of the shooting.

One has to be careful, though. When moving, it is always possible that you will move into an open trap of the enemy. Take extra care to ensure that you do not place your units, now in much greater danger (as they are no longer in cover), into a situation where the enemy can draw a line of sight on them, and thus quickly dispatch of your units. As well, one has to take care that you do not also potentially trigger an opponent’s closed trap. Be very careful of what potential lines of sight exist on your moving units that did not before, and be aware of the enemy’s distance, so as to prevent an assault on your moving troops.

Note as well, that, though the moving unit is in greater danger, there is the potential for a greater extent of tactical movement. For example, it is possible in some circumstances to move your troops in such a way where they then open up a new firing lane themselves, and set up a new open trap for the enemy. Likewise, in the most complicated of circumstances, groups of units can perform closed traps in series. As well, a unit that is moved can easily be a lure for another trap.

This brings us to the third type of trap, the LURE TRAP. In this method, a commander will willingly endanger a unit, or make it weak for the purposes of controlling enemy movement (in such a way where an open or closed trap may then be applied). This method may be used either against assaulters by moving out of cover (preferably towards the enemy assault unit), or against shooting units, by moving out of cover in such a way where, to make the easy kill, the enemy shooter needs to move into a trap.

For example, let us say that a command squad is used as a lure in such a way.

If the opponent is conserving his strength in a defensive position, it may sometimes be necessary to offer such a bait to the enemy. Let us assume that the enemy, which, as per rule two, must come to your forces to kill them (let us assume in this example that the enemy unit is particularly adept at assault, as this is obviously a case of an assault lure). When the enemy attacks, it is quite possible (indeed probable, if you played right) that the attack will destroy the bait. This is usually inevitable, but in the case of a shooting lure, it is possible for the squad to survive. In any case, the opponent is left in a bad position.

In this case, the enemy unit has been subjected to a combined closed and open trap. It is very important to consider that, if an enemy unit fell for your trap, that it is entirely possible that they had just set out a lure, and the units that moved for a close trap are now in incredible danger. Likewise, you should consider the careful application of this strategy as well, as not only can you gain the upper hand after the lure trap is sprung, but you may also add to it the bait that your units destroyed.

Note that, as mentioned before, it is very possible to combine traps together, as well as link them across time. For instance, let us assume that the enemy has moved forwards.

It is very conceivable that the opponent might fall into an open trap, as in the case of the artillery, and as well a closed trap by both the sentinel and command squad, which is now in range for an assault.

Let us assume that the command squad in this case assaulted whatever was left alive by the shooting of the enemy unit. This assault squad can then consolidate forwards, where he may be in the position to be assaulted by another enemy unit (in this case, making the closed trap unit a lure). If such a unit were to destroy the command squad, they would very likely suffer an open trap from at least the infantry squad and the artillery, as well as a closed trap from the sentinel.

In this way, traps could be combined and then linked over time with each other. The result from this theoretical set of traps is two enemy units dead to your one, while your units are still in excellently defensible positions, while being able to easily perform more closed traps on any other enemy unit that approaches.

Note as well, that it is very possible to use an objective as a lure. If you know enemy units must approach a certain area, it is very easy to combine the lure that is the objective with open traps.

Consider the following battles for reference:

OPEN TRAP

example open trap


CLOSED TRAP

example closed trap

example closed trap


LURE TRAP

example of a shooting lure

example of an objective lure


COMBINED OPEN AND CLOSED

example of a combination of traps


ALL TOGETHER

example of all different types of traps used in a single battle


Now that we understand that remaining in a well-fortified position gives strength, and that there can be times when one becomes weaker or more vulnerable for a net gain in strength. Let us then consider the second of the two principles of Ailarian warfafe: that an enemy must approach you.

At first glance, this can be seen as fairly intuitive. And enemy can not assault you without approaching you, this is obvious, but as well, if your units are well hidden by terrain, your enemy will be forced to move his units so that he is able to engage your forces. With such offenses brings the availability of counter-offenses (namely, traps), and thus there is a great deal of power in the realization that one can dictate where the enemy moves, knowing that the enemy must move. After all, an enemy is unlikely to simply assault a place where there is no one to resist them!

Though the lure trap is an excellent example of this principle, the primary way to harness this power is though deployment. Before we begin to discuss the different ways of deploying, first let us consider the two main groups of units (namely, vehicles and infantry), and how they are best able to take advantage of this second principle of warfare.

The greatest strength of infantry is their ready supply, and inexpense of fielding. Their chief weakness, of course, is the standard infantryman’s lack of resilience, along with its lack of mobility. This leads us to believe a few things. Firstly, given their numbers, if the enemy is to engage your units, it is most likely that they will be attacking an infantry unit (compared to the relatively few, and far more resilient vehicles). This means that you can direct your enemy’s movement in such a way where they can engage your infantry (and thus plan the appropriate traps). In short, the placement of your infantry determines the direction of attack of the enemy.

We should also note that the lack of resilience means that it is crucial to place these units into hardened positions. This, combined with the inexpense of infantry creates a powerful principle. While your enemy attacks your units that have a fair resiliency (due to their cover), you have much more resources at your disposal to engage in a more ferocious counter attack (most likely through closed traps). Thus, you not only gain an advantage by controlling your enemy’s movement, but the proper use of infantry also causes you to be able to attack with great strength those places where your opponent attempts to attack.

Vehicles, on the other hand, are the opposite. They are mobile and resilient, while being expensive and thus fewer in numbers. It seems obvious, from the initial view, that vehicles are perfect instruments for closed traps, as they are easily able to move and engage the enemy from long distances away. As well, the speed of vehicles allows you to more easily create preemptive open traps as well. With their added resiliency, vehicles are also more able to weaken themselves through movement, and still be able to ward off enemy counter attacks.

In this light, there can be seen an obvious relationship between vehicles and infantry. Namely, the infantry is the primary magnet of the enemy’s fire and assault, while the vehicles are able to quickly and efficiently operate many traps based on the enemy’s reaction to the infantry. We should not solely relegate these two groups of units to these roles, as vehicles make excellent lures, as well as directing the enemy’s movement. Infantry can likewise both direct enemy movement as well as laying down withering open traps. At it’s base, though, this principle is a strong one for the beginnings of using deployment to take advantage of the second rule.

As well, it should be noted another simple rule. Forward deployment is ideal for open traps, as such a deployment often means the capture of vital fire lanes that would be obstructed by deploying rearward (more likely behind terrain). Likewise, rear deployment is suited for closed traps, as you will be able to keep your forces safer, and their purpose more secret, until it is time to strike. Lures are able to be used effectively in both deployments, as a lure from the front will draw the enemy into your fire lanes, while a lure from the rear will draw your enemies into assault, and into positions in the open for proper close-range engagement.

THE LINE

The line is the easiest form of deployment. It involves spreading out one’s forces over a wide front with roughly equal resilience and power across the line.

The primary advantage to a line lies in it’s ability to flexibly handle an enemy force by sacrificing open traps for closed ones. In this setup, an enemy may chose to attack any part of the line, as all parts are roughly equal. Once you have discovered where the enemy will strike, you can very easily bring vehicles in from other parts of the line, as well as infantry from nearby areas to perform crushing closed traps.

This advantage can be crippled, however. It is possible, through either the lay of the terrain, or the machinations of the enemy mind, that an enemy will be able to break through a line. This occurs when you are unable to react properly, and are unable to lay a closed trap. Without the closed trap, and the aforementioned lack of open traps, a general’s options are severely limited. To prevent this, it is often required that a line be sufficiently self-supportive so that, even though it’s open trap capabilities are poorer, that an enemy can be open trapped in such a way where even a limited closed attack can still break them

THE HAMMER AND ANVIL

Also known as the uneven line, the hammer and anvil is a slightly less even distribution of one’s forces. The center of the formation is deliberately weakened in order to slightly enforce one side, and drastically enforce another.

The basic strategy is simple. Faced with the option of a very strong flank, or a less strong flank, most opponents will attack the weaker flank first. While, in theory, the center is the most obvious target, few generals are short-sighted enough to fall into such an obvious trap as to attack it.

The weaker flank is able to defend itself against the attack, coordinated or otherwise, because of the nature of the defensive positions that they hold. The stronger flank, then, is dedicated to closed entrapment. This strong side can easily move in and smash enemy units as they cross open ground to get to the defenders (remember that while the ground may not be open from the point of view of the defending flank, it might not be from the point of view of the strong flank when it moves). The strong flank is also bolstered enough so that if the enemy spreads out it’s attack, or the defending flank is strong enough to resist the attack, or a variety of other circumstances, the strong flank can easily be used offensively.

THE ECHELON

The echelon is the next step in uneven deployment. It consists of drastically reducing the power of one flank to moderately increase the strength of the center, and greatly increase the strength of the opposite flank.

As there is still a presence on the weak flank, that side will still draw enemy forces. This allows the center to engage in closed traps on the center, while the strong flank is free to either set up traps or to engage in the offense. Note that the center is defended usually from open traps from the weak flank, and closed traps from the strong flank. The strong flank, with its level of reinforcement, is already a strong defensive entity of its own, and thus having only closed support from the center, and no support from the weak flank, the strong flank is still able to be combat effective.

This deployment is very effective, as the loss of an under supported weak flank is not as critical, due to the danger of creating a closed trap, when the strong flank can so easily closed trap them. As well, the line is easily able to support other aspects of the line. The only major penalty to this deployment comes if the enemy can eliminate your weak flank without exposing themselves to a trap, as well as if the enemy concentrates all of their force on your strong side, in which case it might be possible to overwhelm it without support from the weak flank.

THE REFUSED FLANK

The refused flank is the most extreme example of uneven deployment. It involves totally eliminating one flank, and transferring resources to the center and other flank.

The obvious advantage to this alignment is that one’s forces are very concentrated in strong positions. This pre-creates a continuous state of open traps in front of your forces, as well as makes the option of a closed trap a simple matter to execute. While the advantage of the lack of necessity of moving one’s forces is an advantage, it bears with it a penalty, namely that the general is now no longer able to make many moves to gain a tactical advantage.

This results in an army that is very static in movement, with all of the strength present at the beginning. This means that if an enemy were to be able to breach into your forces, that there is no way of strengthening oneself to defend against the breech. As well, it allows enemy assault forces to quickly engage in a second friendly unit very shortly after engaging in the first. Thus, when an enemy attacks a refused flank, there are very few options available, and thus, though strong, the refused flank is not without its risk.

As well, though enemy forces deployed against a refused flank will find themselves without opponent, this is also a negative, as the opponent’s forces will now be naturally combined with those of the center to attack your forces. This causes a strengthening of the offense, which increases their ability to breach your line.

CONCLUSION

Let us examine in brief the lessons regarding movement and deployment. Firstly, we should remember that forces reduce their resilience, and their firepower, when they move. Remember to take advantage of your opponents when they weaken themselves in this way. As well, remember that there are times when your movement may actually increase your firepower and assault capabilities. Unless this is the case, then, there is no advantage to movement.

The cases for movement are many, but most of them fall into the basic categories of “open trap” for which no movement is required, and “closed trap” for which movement is required. Both of these may make use of lures, either through inexpensive, yet well-fortified infantry squads, or blatant lures charging forward, as well as lures through objectives that you know that your enemy must procure. Though not mentioned further, it is also possible to create a lure by moving a unit forward temporarily, only to retire them to a position of strength.

Deployment of ones forces as well can be described as an infinite number of combinations. In any way you wish to deploy, however, remember that it should be for the purpose of the entrapment of enemy forces. Do not deploy in such a way where you fight the enemy in his strength, but in a created place of weakness.

Do not fall for lures, beware of the enemy’s potential reactionary movement to avoid closed traps, and keep a keen eye for which parts of the battlefield an enemy may already control through strong units with good lanes of fire. Then, through the tactical application of its principles, as well as the resistance against the principles when used against ones self, you may become the master of the Ailarian way of war.