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Guide to Mobile warfare
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Old 05 Mar 2008, 13:01   #1 (permalink)
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Default Guide to Mobile warfare

Alright we always heard of all the infamous Mech armies such as Mech Eldar, Mech Dark Eldar, Mech Tau and also the insanely mobile armies such as Death-ravenwing and the Necron Flying Circus but what makes this armies work and achieve their infamous reputation?

Well, come with me and explore the interesting world of Mobile warfare.
Background
Since time memorable, methods of warfare revolves around two principles; Maneuver warfare and attrition warfare which are the focus when it comes to achieving victory upon the battlefield either by killing or capturing an objective. Maneuver warfare understands that both attrition and also maneuver are both important elements of warfare and this principle is pushed forward by militaries which are smaller, more cohesive, better trained, or more technically able than attrition warfare counterparts.

Mobile in 40k
Now in 40k there are several types of mobile armies, and they are

1) Vehicle – eg: Mech Dark Eldar, Mech Eldar
2) Infantry – eg:Necron Flying Circus, Death-ravenwing
3) Hybrid - eg: Mech Tau

And their abilities can be broadly categorized into;

1)Shooting
2)Assault
3)Hybrid

Now I would like to explain how I categorized them and their strengths and weaknesses so here goes.

Major subtypes
In a Mobile Vehicle army, This means that everything is either vehicles or are in vehicles. Mech Dark Eldar belongs here, and so are several types of Mech Eldar. The advantages of a Vehicle Moblie army is that with their armour value, they are able to negate most anti-infantry weapons and also negate any close combat elements, but in return, they will often lack in numbers and if the vehicle is down, their effectiveness arecut down rather drastically.

In a Mobile Infantry (Not to be mistaken with Starship Troopers), this means that there are a lot of very mobile infantry units coupled with very little or no vehicles at all. Pure Ravenwing is perhaps the best example here and so is the Flying Circus and Jump pack heavy Blood Angels.

The advantages that one can get from a Mobile Infantry list is that they are able to utilize cover and terrain better, have numbers on their side and they in effect negate anti-tank capabilities of an opposing army. However their main weakness are often anti-infantry weapon and also they are exposed to the elements like any infantry does, which in this case close combat weaponry and the likes.

In a Hybrid Mobile, this means that there are fast infantry alongside many vehicles. Mech Tau belongs here, along with most kinds of Mech Eldar (Saim-Hann is one of the major ones). The Necron Flying Circus is unique because it can be called a Hybrid Mobile as well, due to the fact that the basic infantry types does not have a transport of any kind, but are able to teleport via using the Monolith and/or the Necron Lord’s wargear.

The hybrid mobile army is like any other hybrid army, takes the best of both worlds of the mobile list and be a more balanced mobile list.

Abilities
Now, as with all Mech armies they optimized upon controlling the movement phase. Some of you might wonder what is the point of controlling the movement phase as the killing are all in the other phases? This is because the movement phase is the only phase where it does not rely upon chance, or in our case dice rolls and thus can be considered the most reliable phase that we can depend on. Now that we covered the basic fundamentals as to why Mech armies dominate the movement phase, now we have to understand that movement alone is not enough. I mean you want to kill and or capture objectives, and for that we need the other two phases; the Shooting phase and Assault Phase. Now the question is what phase should the Mech army dominate in?

For some armies, the shooting phase is a more powerful phase as more often than not the assault phase is their bane. Necrons and tau fall into the shooting mobile armies due to their low initiative, and their shooting are prodigious to say the least. As for others, the close combat phase is a more powerful option due to the fact that their shooting is not very good and/or their close combat weaponry are way superior. Jump pack heavy Blood Angels and the aptly named Ravensquig falls into this category.

For some, they are so balanced with their close combat and their shooting that they can do both at once, thus able to be very balanced in almost all phases of combat. Mech Eldar and Mech Dark Eldar belongs here, as their armies are able to hit hard in all phases of combat.

Now that we know what kinds of mobile armies are there in 40k, now we will go to the fundamental elements of mobile warfare.
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Old 05 Mar 2008, 13:05   #2 (permalink)
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Application of mobile warfare.
I bet by now you are quite overwhelmed by all the different types of mobile that I have brought forth right? Do not need to worry, for they all have a similar framework that they work with.

Now contrary to attrition warfare, which is defined by defined by Webster as "the act of weakening or exhausting by constant harassment, abuse, or attack", the basic premise of maneuver warfare is basically to keep an enemy off-balanced by gaining an advantageous position relative to the enemy.
In Maneuver warfare, there are several important elements to keep in mind when one is to understand the whole idea of maneuver warfare. War theorist Martin VanCreveld identifies six main elements of maneuver warfare:

* Decentralized command
* Flexibility
* Combined arms
* Surprise
* Schwerpunkt
* Tempo

And thus with these points, I will explain the certain aspects of maneuver warfare, and I will start first with Decentralized command, followed up by the rest.

1.Decentralized command
In the simplest term, this means that all elements of an army must know the overall intent of the entire battle plan, as the constant changing battlefield will often out pace communications. With this maneuver warfare seeks that one must be fast enough to adapt to the ever changing conditions of a battlefield and thus able to act independently while achieving the main goal.

2. Flexibility
According to VanCreveld , flexibility means a military must be well rounded, self contained and redundant. Flexibility in warfare is of paramount importance as this enables a fighting unit to adapt to the ever changing battlefield ans is able to fight against any adversary without the need of slowing down the entire efforts of the entire army. However, this is not to say that the unit will be standing up against the opponent alone, for they need the support of other units to achieve perfect synergy, which will be explained further in combined arms.

3. Combined arms
Combined arms is defined as an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different arms of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects. Though the lower-echelon units of a combined arms team may be of homogeneous types, a balanced mixture of such units are combined into an effective higher-echelon unit, whether formally in a table of organization or informally in an ad hoc solution to a battlefield problem.

Here every unit is not alone in their struggle, as infantry protecting the tanks, the tanks protecting the infantry since they would need one another to fight effectively and ultimately, survive the day.

This is due to a principle called the Lanchester Square Law (which holds true for all types of warfare), which states that the combat power of a combat unit relative to the relative combat power of an enemy of a given size, all other factors being equal, is the square of the number of members of that unit.From this it is derived that twice as many tanks will quadruple the relative firepower — relative that is, to the amount of firepower the enemy has per member of the friendly unit; one could also express this by saying that their relative punishment from enemy action is reduced four times, which is the same thing — as not only their own absolute number is doubled, but the number of enemies relative to each of their own, is thereby halved also. Thus, concentrating two divisions into one point and attacking generates a far greater force than is achieved by spreading two divisions into a line and pushing forward on a broad front.

In simple english it goes like this and I will use the tank example for it is easier and more in line with the topic;

A single tank is as combat effective as another tank of the same type, but two tanks are not twice as effective, but instead it is 4 times as effective. The reason being that a single tank will not only outgunned an opponent by twice, but also will be able to kill twice the number of enemies, hence it being 'squared'. In addition, the enemy's ability to counter the threat is reduced by 4 times, hence their anti-tank ability is 'square rooted'.
However, even though the units are all working together, if they are faced by a force that are equal or superior to them in anyway, they will have a hard time fighting as well. Thus in order to defeat a force that are equal or superior to them they need to have something up their sleeves that will enable them to bolster their considerable combat strength and that is when surprise comes into play.

4. Surprise
The element of surprise is always an important part of warfare, whether it is just introducing a new unit or doing something very unconventional. This is because something that the opponent did not expect will always give you the advantage straight on, as they will have a hard time countering your ‘surprise’. This can do alot of things as it enables you to gain the advantage.

However surprise alone will not win you the day, for once the surprise is sprung, it will be very hard to surprise the opponent again and if the

1)The opposition is weak
2)Doing it at the place where the surprise element will be severely negated

, the surprise is another way of saying that your plan backfired.And now enter the Schwerpunkt.

5. Schwerpunkt
Schwerpunkt, translated as focal point is an aspect of warfare first explored in the Blitzkrieg where the basic premise is to focus everything at a single point and well, break it with superior force. Remember the physics law by Newton (guy who revolutionized physics due to a damn apple dropping on his head?)? Well, for those who have not a clue as to what that is, they are;

1.A physical body will remain at rest, or continue to move at a constant velocity, unless an unbalanced net force acts upon it.

2.The net force on a body is equal to its mass multiplied by its acceleration

3.For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

A schwerpunkt works in a similar manner. With an objective in mind, once you started moving it, you can never stop in warfare, for any moment of hesitation will kill you. And with that momentum gaining up, it will achieve a greater penetration force as a result of Newton law #2. Thus a Schwerpunkt is akin to the first two laws of Netwon’s, for a Sckwerpunkt is a point where you focus the strongest force to break it down.

The goals of this were the deepest possible penetration and minimal engagement, while avoiding an enemy counterattack. This often means that the focal point is often the decisive movement of all maneuver-based armies, as it means that you throw in whatever you have into the point and never give in, because if you break through, the enemy will crumble while if you fail, you will be dead within seconds. It is a much more elegant way of saying ‘get rich or die trying”.

However, most people who achieve this breakthrough tend to forget Newton’s third law; For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.For most often than not, everyone have a back-up plan for this kind of things, and they can counter the momentum of the blitz with a beautifully executed counterattack.

Wait a second everyone! Before you even say ‘that’s why Mobile sucks hard”, this is when we go back and look at the element of surprise. Why let him countercharge when you can counter-countercharge? This will give him another surprise and thus bring the whole pace of warfare back to you.

This finally leads up the final part of the 6 elements of maneuver warfare, which is tempo.

6. Tempo
Tempo in this case refers to the similar to the idea of tempo as it is used in chess, as well as to the chess concept of initiative where a player can gain the advantage by setting the pace of the game. With mech, it is important that you get this and earn this pace. You ca do it by mainly two ways;

1)You force your opponent into following your pace

2)You break the opponent’s pace of battle

For the first one, maneuver warfare gives you this advantage as you can choose where and when you want to fight. Compared with a static army,who often have to rely upon the actions of an opponent, a maneuver army have to be a little more decisive and aggressive from the head-start, even when they are on the defensive. If a fast and mobile army is negated from its speed, it will often have a fight that ultimately it will lose. If you are stuck into a corner, you have to break out and gain back the momentum of your speed as speed and maneuver is your forte. Besides who does not like controlling their opponent? >

As for the second point, most adversary whether they like it or not, often have their own pace that they adhere to. With that they expect that any type of warfare would be waged at their level where they feel most comfortable. However, when you are playing mech, you can not slow down, and for that you need to break the adversary’s pace and thus force the adversary to follow your pace of battle. Most often than not, most people will not be able to adapt that fast and thus will often be at a disadvantage.

However, this can also be used against you as well, as they will try to maximize upon their strengths while minimize upon their weaknesses. So with these this is the basic concepts that you have to remember for any type of mobile warfare.

Conclusion
Well, I hoped that you enjoyed this guide to mobile warfare. For the new ones into the hobby, I hope I have shown the fundamentals of using a mobile army, and for the vets I hope I have widen your knowledge upon the matter.

No matter what kind of mobile platform you want to be, the fundamentals of a mobile army is the same; speed is power.
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Old 05 Mar 2008, 21:02   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Guide to Mobile warfare

Gee, I really didn't think too much about this, but nevertheless it is an interesting read.
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Old 05 Mar 2008, 21:36   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Guide to Mobile warfare

Just have to say nice read.
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Old 05 Mar 2008, 23:40   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Guide to Mobile warfare

Reminds me a lot actually of the draft I did over at ATT... :

The Nature of War

The Theory of War

The Conduct of War

Surprisingly similar!

I take it you're using MCDP 1-1 as a basis for this article too?
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Old 06 Mar 2008, 06:02   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Doombringer
I take it you're using MCDP 1-1 as a basis for this article too?
To be honest that is the first time I read those articles. I am using a whole different source for the articles. I used what I have learned alongside these books/ideals of people

1)33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

2)Sun Bin's Art of War

3)Blitzkrieg doctrines

4)Martin VanCreveld



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Old 06 Mar 2008, 06:10   #7 (permalink)
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What?! Nothing about Imperial Guard in there? Personally, I'm insulted. I spit on you, Crisis....damn it. I spit on my computer screen :P

Mobile doesn't have to be something with vehicles right? I mean like....how about Drop Troops? Light Infantry?
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Old 06 Mar 2008, 06:19   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Colonel Zen Ai
What?! Nothing about Imperial Guard in there? Personally, I'm insulted. I spit on you, Crisis....damn it. I spit on my computer screen :P

Mobile doesn't have to be something with vehicles right? I mean like....how about Drop Troops? Light Infantry?
Infiltrators and Deepstrikers are not mobile in my opinion, due to the fact that after their special deployment rules, they will be as static as anything else. However, they can bring that element of surprise to the opponent if done right. However if You ar Shrike's wing then yes, you are mobile and also able to surprise a number of opponent.

No one likes when their entire formation is in disarray due to a Drop-boo Untramarines army right?
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Old 06 Mar 2008, 06:23   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Guide to Mobile warfare

Hmm true. I guess you're right. IGs are made for static warfare. Remind me not to play a Take & Hold game with you. Oh, might be taking some Rough Riders > but not in my immediate list.

Also noone likes an Infiltrating Dreadnought :P
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Old 06 Mar 2008, 06:33   #10 (permalink)
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Hmm true. I guess you're right. IGs are made for static warfare.
Of course they're not. They're a huge mix of everything. The thing is, the appropriate unit is going to be used for the appropriate occasion. Armored and Mechanized units would be used for quick strikes, as bait for ambushes and blitzkrieging, normal infantry units would be used in cities, ambushes or transported by truck or hauler to keep up with the armor and hold ground, and siege and trench units would be the ones to hold down the trenches or crack a fortress. It's all going to depend on the situation.

Drop troops are mobile in the way that modern airborne infantry are mobile. They can get to a place fast, the mobile part, but then they act as normal infantry if the Vultures don't stick around to pick them up.
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