A Penny for Your Thoughts
On 2006-03-06, Tris wrote:
Infantry hold ground because they are more concealable, and require less supply.
I understand the first in more depth than the second, though I imagine that as "experts study logistics" the second is actually more important.
So more concealable. In fact, most of an infantryman's defence comes from concealment. This lends itself excellently to reverse slope defense, not necessarily on a slope, but also in tree lines, cities etc.
Conventional wisdom is that, in general, a three to one ratio of force is required for an attack. If a defender tries to engage on even terms, it clearly doesn't go well for him.
If however, the attackers do not even see the defender until he opens fire, at his ideal range, on a vulnerable attacker, things start to look better. The best example of this is the RPG guy in a house looking down at a tank (but it can also be a guy with a MG looking out from the edge of a forest at an advancing squad, and so on...)
As to logistics, any army has a limited logistical capability. Supplying armour consumes a large amount of this. Armour requires fuel, shells, parts, maintainance, recovery, repair. Plus all the crew requirements. Infantry require food, and a few bullets, and they can manage some of that by scavenging.
So, put a large part of your war effort into supplying a tank to drive about on defence, and be taken out from a distance by bombers, AT guns, other tanks, missiles.
Or put a much smaller part of your capability into supplying a few guys to sit in a woods, and ambush anyone in the wrong colour uniform who tries to get past. Freeing up capability to supply the armour to concentrate somewhere else for a breakthrough attack?
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luke go "not just..."
not just concealable and not just because they don't require deisel fuel: infantry are adaptable. Infantry can adapt to myriad situations that would confound or defeat beast and machine.
TB go "true, but not relevant"
As in, adaptability is AT LEAST as good for attack as for defence. So I don't count that as a reason why "infantry hold ground" is pretty much a truism.
SF go "You're both right AND wrong!"
Machines with humans in them can still adapt, though the design of the machine may limit adaptation.
Being harder to see is a big advantage of infantry over vehicles; so is being easier to supply.
But the "let's sit in the woods and ambush folks!" only works if the other guy has a reason to go through the woods (or mountain pass, or whatever); otherwise you've just sacrificed your "move around" aspect of the triple tradeoff to the point an army of snails can bypass you.
Plus the old "three to one" ratio has a horrific fudge factor -- counting numbers is easy, but how do you handicap for, say, morale?
TB go "Right where it counts"
I think. That is - We are talking about "Infantry hold ground". You basically say it's pointless to hold one specific terrain feature if the enemy can just drive round you. Well yes. So you end up using infantry to hold enough ground they can't just bypass you.
KSB go "Three to one"
I'm trained as an assult soldier. We were told the three to one rule, we were also told att this stage of the assault X will die, at this stage another bunch will die, and here most definitly guys will die. At the end of first 6 months of training we calculated that our platoon would be short two squads, before we had begun the final assault. Makes you want to hug that dirt it does.