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Allanea’s Friendly Guide to Modern Infantry [info post]

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Allanea’s Friendly Guide to Modern Infantry [info post]

Postby Allanea » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:03 am

Allanea’s Friendly Guide to Modern Infantry

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Officers and Men of the Second Canadian Expeditionary Force

Introduction


'"To seek out and close with the enemy, to kill or capture him, to seize or hold ground, to repel attack by day or night, regardless of season, weather or terrain." ~ The Role of the Infantryman, as defined by the British Army

Infantry are the most basic - and perhaps the most interesting - form of soldier. Everyone is familiar with infantrymen in some broad sense - the Green Army Men you played with as a kid are infantry, as are most Star Wars Stormtroopers, the guys in Band of Brothers, and the footmen in Warcraft are all infantry. Even mighty Special Forces soldiers in movies like The Green Berets and Delta Force are infantrymen. The protagonists of Doom, Aliens and Edge of Tomorrow are infantrymen.

The infantry are arguably the most versatile form of soldier. Infantrymen assault fortified positions, kick in doors in terrorist-infested third-world cities, climb mountains, protect embassies, carry out reconnaissance raids deep in the rear of enemy troops, hold the line against overwhelming odds. Master Chief is an infantryman, so is Zaitsev in Enemy at the Gates and the Brave Soldier Shveik.

Of course, to some this importance of infantry seems counterintuitive. Infantrymen are - most of the time - mere humans. They don’t possess the firepower of tanks or bombers, they’re not covered in thick layers of armor and they can’t move at Mach 1 like fighter jets. However, infantry are very important militarily - primarily because they can establish a direct presence on the battlefield like no other vehicle can. People can walk into homes, climb into trenches, scale mountains and navigate subway tunnels like no vehicle or warmachine can, Infantry are also important narratively - that is to say, it is easier for many writers to tell the story of a soldier who is running on foot to his target, shoots a rifle at the enemy (or sometimes, talks to them) than to tell the story of someone operating a complex war machine and slaying the enemy from 10 miles away (though of course there are some novels about that, and if you want to focus your NS RP on the tales of your nation’s brave MLRS gunners, don’t let me stop you).

This informative is a brief explanation of infantry, their tactics, and organization, intended to aid Nationstates roleplayers in writing more realistic and sensible posts about infantry combat in the MT and PMT setting (though some of the knowledge is applicable in other settings as well). I am not a combat veteran, nor am I a historian (though I am studying to be one and have an MA in military history), so take everything I wrote here with a grain of salt. Several actual combat veterans and military experts have been consulted in the writing of this post, but any mistakes you find in it are mine and not theirs. Because no post on any forum should be taken as a definitive guide for anything, a brief list of sources is provided to assist your future learning.

Posters that have aided me in writing this post include Kouralia, as well as Crystal Spires, without whom this guide would have never happened.

Different Types of Infantry
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Soviet Mechanized Infantry advancing with their BMP-1


The infantry are subdivided into different types based on the type of weaponry they have and the sort of tasks they carry out. There will be some overlap between these definitions, like there would be between similar definitions in other military fields.

Mechanized Infantry: Mechanized infantry are infantry that are equipped with Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) or Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). In the past there was a distinction between those types of vehicles in that IFVs were expected to fight in combat alongside the infantry, whereas APCs were intended only to bring the infantry into combat. For this reason in the past APCs were armed only vestigially (with a medium or heavy machinegun at best, and sometimes not even having a weapons turret at all), whereas IFVs were armed with a cannon of their own. Some IFVs and APCs have firing ports, enabling the infantry to fire their guns from inside the vehicle, but these are typically really hard to fire accurately from. (The British Army calls infantry equipped with IFVs armoured infantry).

Today, however, many APCs are armed with bigger and bigger guns, and are expected to a greater degree to fight alongside the infantry, therefore blurring the distinction.

Motorized Infantry: These are infantry who do not have APCs or IFVs, and are transported to the battlefield on trucks (sometimes the trucks have some small amount of protection against enemy small arms and shell splinters). Some include APC-using infantry into ‘motorized’ if the APCs aren’t really expected to fight alongside the infantry. The chief difference between mechanized and motorized infantry - in my view, at least - is that motorized infantry have a vehicle of some form that can carry them to battle, but cannot really fight alongside them due to being relatively vulnerable in combat and lacking the firepower needed to support the infantry with its fire.

Counterintuitively, motorized infantry often have heavy weapons that mechanized infantry don’t - automatic grenade launchers, heavy machineguns, light mortars and ATGMs. This is meant to compensate for not having the heavy vehicle-mounted weaponry that mechanized infantrymen have.

Light Infantry - These are infantry that have a relatively small amount of APCs and other heavy vehicles. Often they move primarily on trucks. In professional military parlance, this is described with the euphemism of having a ‘low vehicle footprint’, which is kind of the military way of saying Look! We don’t have any armored vehicles but look at all of our savings on gasoline and spare parts!. The obvious downside of this attitude is that in the event of serious warfare against mechanized infantry, the light infantry will be less protected and less well-armed. The upside, on the other hand, is that light infantry are easier to transport, cost less to train (due to not needing to do maintenance on expensive armored vehicles during training) and can travel in parts of the world mechanized infantry can’t reach - swamps, mountains, and so forth. Paramilitary police units can also double as light infantry during wartime.

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Light Infantry in Vietnam


Airborne Infantry: Airborne Infantry, also known as paratroopers, are infantry that are trained to deploy by parachute from planes and helicopters. Some paratrooper units are mechanized (like Russian VDV and some Chinese airborne troops), deploying with their own specialized IFVs, but most are essentially light infantry. Due to the fact they often lack the heavy weapons of regular infantry, and operate with less of an opportunity for effective resupply, paratroopers often need to undergo more serious training and be more fit than regular infantry.

Air Assault or Airmobile Infantry: These are a special subtype of the above, trained not to attack by jumping out of aircraft, but by landing the aircraft to deploy in combat. A particular example of this are the US Air Cavalry of the Vietnam era (you can see them in the movie Apocalypse Now).

Mountain Infantry: Those are a subset of light infantry trained to fight in mountain terrain. These are often cross-trained as mountain climbers and equipped with vehicles that are better at navigating mountain terrain, even at the expense of armor and other performance. Even donkeys and horses are sometimes pressed into service for mountain infantry.

Other special types of infantry include Arctic Infantry, who are trained and equipped for combat beyond the Polar Circle (including training with dog-sleighs and reindeer sleighs), and Jungle Infantry, who are just light infantry with some jungle survival training.

Marine Infantry: Marine Infantry, or Marines simply, are a type of force designed primarily for operating in expeditionary operations where they attack from ships (though of course they can land in any other ways, including operating as regular infantry). Because Marines often are first to engage in combat and operate in situations where full military support is not available, they often have more extensive training and are intended to be tougher than regular infantry.

Assault Infantry or Assault Engineers: A form of infantry that existed during the World Wars and is now making a slight comeback IRL, those are infantry equipped in very heavy personal armor, issued explosive charges and close-combat weapons. Armored vehicles drive them as close as possible to enemy fortifications, whereupon they dismount and engage the fortification crews in close combat or try to blow them up by planting explosive charges.

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Russian Assault Engineers


Special Forces: Special Forces are very much the subject of much exaggeration both in fiction and in policy debates. Many believe that they’ll eventually supplant all soldiers, and we will no longer need mass armies. This is a fundamentally flawed understanding. Special Forces are best understood as a form of light infantry. While they’re much better trained that regular soldiers, they cannot, of course (except in some narrow specially engineered circumstances) butcher dozens of ordinary soldiers unpunished. Most special forces operations revolve around infiltrating them into weak points in an enemy defense (sometimes actually deep inside the enemy country, far away from the front) to carry out tasks like secretly fit explosive charges to the side of an enemy warship, assassinate an enemy general, or train guerilla fighters in fighting the enemy. Sometimes a small group of Special Forces commandos can become instructors and commanders to a mighty army of thousands of guerillas.

A famous example of special forces operations is the tale of OMSBON - a Separate Special Purpose Motor Rifle Brigade, formed under Stalin’s NKVD from a group of NKVD officer-cadets, sportsmen, and... humanities students. OMSBON included Olympic boxing champions, poets, and riflemen of incredible prowess. During next four years they raised vast armies of partisans, blew up trains full of Nazis, and staged Shakespeare performances for Belarus partisan units to keep up morale.

Importantly, however, their main purpose in the service was not to fight Nazi soldiers in direct combat. If a special forces brigade of 5,000 troops would confront a mechanized brigade of 5,000 troops in direct combat, the Special Forces soldiers would likely lose, because the mechanized troops would have more heavy equipment, artillery, and even tanks to balance out the skill advantage Special Forces have.

Special Forces come in many different types - Long Range Reconnaissance troops, Navy reconnaissance (often conflated with combat divers), Nuclear Landmine Disposal Troops (intended to take out enemy nuclear landmines and their control bunkers), and so on, to an endless variety all of its own. This will not be addressed in this document except to say that it exists.

Infantry Tactics


The issue of military tactics is perhaps the most important for writing roleplays and other fiction. Most of your posts will be about your nation’s soldiers, their experience, and the measures they take to defeat other soldiers. Whether your RP is of a more cooperative style or a more competitive style, this is where your narrative will focus. It takes a more knowledgeable writer than myself to focus extensively on the military decisions made by your Army’s supreme commanders - and even then you’d have to talk to some degree about how these decisions affect individual men.

There are multiple literary choices you can make when writing about the experience of infantry soldiers. I will treat those choices in a separate document. For now we will discuss the broad points of military tactics. (It is impossible to address the entire variety of infantry tactics in a single document, but we will get you started and provide you with some learning materials for you to get going with.)

The first thing to understand is that unlike the stereotype portrayed in some anti-war art, and ascribed to some third-world militaries, soldiers are rarely if ever actually completely expendable. That is to say, while every military force will sacrifice the lives of soldiers towards a political or military goal, this is not the same as saying that the lives of individual soldiers are completely worthless. A military force treats its soldiers as a resource, this is true - but as a valuable and very expensive resource. Sometimes the vagaries of culture, economics, and politics lead national leaders to treat their troops as almost completely expendable. Typically, national disaster is either already imminent, or follows soon after.

(A particular form of the trope is the Human Wave Attack - the idea of soldiers just running at the enemy en masse. This typically ends up with your soldiers killed. Some armies - the Chinese particularly - actually perfected a form of this where their men would in fact run at the enemy en masse after sneaking up extremely closely to them and having their artillery first attack the foe en masse. This was somewhat successful but still led to enormous casualties and is no longer in use. Furthermore, human waves were not really used very widely in the First World War as anti-war shows and films often portray. While soldiers of the era did participate in many assaults on enemy trenches, they did not, generally speaking, just dumbly rush towards them. Infantry in 1914 were quite capable of using cover and concealment, operating in teams, and spreading out over the land to avoid being mown down en masse. There were many reasons to the vast casualties of WW1, none of them however are ‘people just rushed towards the machineguns in big dumb crowds like zombies’.)

The second thing to understand is that - in any competent, modern military force - soldiers are professionals. Even conscript forces train their troops for several months before sending them into combat. People whose training consists of ‘this is a rifle, point it that way’ (like some Ukrainian soldiers early in the 2014 conflict, some Soviet troops in 1941, and of course guerillas everywhere) will suffer horribly on the battlefield.

In combat, infantry have long ceased using formations like they did in the early 19th century. The increase in firepower that had gone on in the past 200 years has meant that moving in formation is a good way to get yourself shot and killed. For this reason, infantry tactics are governed by the following basic facts:

Your rifle is very accurate, but you are not. Shooting something as far away as 300 yards at a range is a skill that a healthy person can be reasonably expected to acquire,and that many soldiers have. Modern rifles like the M16 can accomplish this task reliably. However, most people will find it difficult to shoot their rifle, or any other weapon, accurately under stress. Additionally, actually spotting another person at a distance is rather difficult, especially if they’re wearing modern camouflage clothing.
The closer you are to the opponent, the easier it is for you to shoot them - however, it is also easier for them to shoot you.
Battlefields are extremely dangerous. - Not so much because of other men with rifles (in most conflicts, rifles and personal weapons cause between 5-20% of deaths). Most battefield casualties are caused by fragments from explosives - hand-grenades, rockets, and artillery.

This puts the infantry in the following situation: they need to constantly be hiding from the enemy, while trying to either engage them with the fire of their small arms, or calling on other soldiers to kill them with their mighty weapons. To hide from the enemy, the infantry can either use cover - hiding behind objects that can’t be shot through and provide physical protection from enemy fire, or concealment - things that hide you from being seen, but can still be shot right through if someone knows where you are, or just feels like shooting in that direction to make sure, or just shoots at it by accident. Farmers’ fences, sheetrock walls, bushes are concealment. Trenches, concrete walls, and armored vehicles are cover.

The most important reality of the battlefield, however, is that the soldier is part of a unit - to be thought of like an employee of a factory that makes death rather than toy teddy bears. While this is a sad and tragic reality, it means that the soldier is also never alone. He acts in concert with other members of his squad (the smallest unit of infantry soldiers, about a dozen). As they enter the battlefield - either trying to capture an enemy bunker, patrol a road, or defend a position from zombies - soldiers in a squad will try to work together. They will look and aim their weapons in different directions (called ‘sectors’), in such a way as to cover the most likely areas from which a threat might appear. They have different weapons - while a few might have ordinary rifles, the rest might have things like rocket launchers (for bunkers and enemy vehicles), a machinegun (for enemy troops at long range, some vehicles), or a scope rifle (for enemy officers, machinegunners, and other important targets), a grenade launcher (either one attached to the rifle, or a separate revolver-launcher) or even a shotgun (for trenchers and rooms). The typical arrangement is to have at least a rocket launcher, a machinegun, and some amount of rifles (at least six, but as many as eight are possible) in your squad, with other special weapons added based on need. Additionally, if you have an IFV or APC as part of your squad, it usually can have an autocannon, a machinegun, and even a missile launcher to shoot at enemy tanks.

When your characters fight in cities, the problems that they are facing will get worse - because most buildings tend to be quite sturdy, and impossible to see through (though with some advanced equipment, it's possible to see through individual walls, and it's of course possible to peek behind buildings with UAVs and pocket drones) enemies will often be able to weather even the most brutal artillery assaults, and remain hidden in buildings - long after the buildings have been ruined past the point of usability in their original purpose - until right the moment they shoot at your infantry. This makes urban combat far more violent and brutal than most other types. When writing about urban combat you should pay attention to the fact that your characters are in a constant state of uncertainty, even more so than in other types of combat, and need to be constantly ready to fight, with far less reliance on help from their comrades than normally. If you are standing in the middle of an urban street and getting shot at, and another soldier is on a parallel street with a block of houses between you... he could just as well be on the dark side of the moon. (A more detailed post on the topic of urban combat will appear later on.)

You must avoid - in your writing - the illusion that your soldiers are a mass of identical video-game units (like the Soviet rifleman in Red Alert). Rather, they are part of a large, death-dealing corporation. When your infantry go into battle, they’ll be directly assisted by tanks, artillery of different types, rocket launchers, aircraft, combat engineers, and countless other things.

Even the actual ‘infantry’ units themselves have some people in them who are not actually infantrymen - an infantry battalion (a group of several hundred soldiers) will often have inside it ATGM teams and mortars, an infantry regiment or brigade will have in it several dozen tanks, artillery, and combat engineers. Larger units will have - as part of the ‘infantry’ unit - more and more complex weapons. It’s best to think of large military units as business ventures - just like a corporation has inside it an HR department, an IT department, a transportation department, an infantry division will have an artillery regiment, an MLRS regiment, a tank regiment, and an air defense regiment, not forgetting the endless logistic outfits. The actual organization of these units is a very controversial topic, and different countries do it differently (sometimes, different infantry divisions in the same country are organized differently). For this reason it will not be covered in detail in this informative. However, in the reading list at the end of the informative you’ll find several sources on the organization of various countries’ military units that you can use for inspiration.

P.S. Another mistake commonly made in military fiction is a fixation on close combat with things like knives and bayonets. Warhammer is a big offender due to it being based on a tabletop game. (If Warhammer rules were used to portray real-world combat, you’d have to use a basketball court to play your game - and some large-scale WH40K games literally do just that.) Now it’s important to state that actually killing a man with a knife appended to the end of your rifle is super-rare.. Polls of Soviet soldiers who fought in close combat (8,000 soldiers were polled) suggest only about 400 of them ever used their bayonet). However, close combat is likely to be the stage at which a fight is decided, either by your unit wiping the other unit out or (much more likely) forcing them to break and run. For this reason, and furthermore due to the fact that close-combat training is a powerful psychological tool, armies retain hand-to-hand combat training. Very very few people, however, will actually be killed by having someone bash them across the head or stab them with a sharp object.

Infantry Organization and Long-Term Concerns


Here I’d like to address some long-term issues regarding infantry organization, resupply, and use, and a few common errors that are made by players in NS when they discuss the organization of their infantry and its strategic use.

The first item, on which I touched slightly in previous discussion, is an understanding that infantry organization is fairly complicated and becomes more complex as you increase the level of organization. An infantry regiment or division is not just a mass of thousands of soldiers with rifles, walking across the landscape towards their deaths. (And if you organized a regiment or division that way in 2016 their deaths would be inevitable). An infantry division is a complex organization. As it prepares for combat it can stretch its positions across miles and miles - the infantry and tanks advancing at the front, the division commander sometimes a hundred miles back with his officers and clerks, thousands of trucks darting to and fro on the field. It is essentially a small army unto itself, with its own helicopters and small hospital, even its own newspaper and prison.

It is not possible here to go over all the different forms of military organization. If you plan to do detailed military roleplays it’s probably best to at least look at the organization of real-world militaries before you get started. Even if you do not plan to detail how many howitzers and trucks you have in a division, it’s best to at least understand what kind of things exist at this level.

On this level, a division or brigade of infantry (that is to say, a unit of 5-10,000 troops) can take action on both operational and strategic levels. For the writer, that is, it is conceivable to write a story in which a division captures or participates in capturing a large city, or even a province.of a country. Where individual squads and platoons can capture a bunker or a position, a battalion could be taking a hill, and a division would be capturing a city or assisting in liberating a province.

Divisions, brigades, and regiments can be brought together into even more complex units called Corps, Fronts, Armies and even Army Groups. These are pretty much different in every country (though typically 2-4 divisions or brigades form a Corps), and even in a specific country their organizations might differ. If you roleplay as a full-sized multibillion-man NS nation, like I do, you might be dealing with these a lot more.

In terms of large-scale operations, it should be noted that infantry are no longer bound - as they were even as late as the 1940s - by the walking speed of a human being, or even by the speed of horse-drawn wagons. During advances or retreats, infantry can move on their IFVs or trucks as fast as tanks can, and are only somewhat slowed down during actual battle itself, when they need to fight on foot. The main bottleneck is preparing the infantry themselves for war - that is to say, taking a division that is resting and training in peacetime and ‘mobilizing’ or ‘activating’ it - bringing all the troops together, bringing the vehicles out of their hangars, and preparing them to go to the front - this can take from 24 hours to several weeks depending on how well-prepared the divisions was. In terms of actual movement, however, nothing stops infantry, just like everyone else in the world, from crossing several hundred kilometers each day.

A major issue that needs to be addressed for most military worldbuilders, however, is the issue of infantry training. Obviously, in the modern world, infantry are trained professionals - as we’ve covered in previous chapters of this informative. The infantry require somewhere between three and seven months training before they can enter their fighting units. (In national emergencies, this time can be shortened at the expense of quality. It can also be shortened if the recruits have some manner of previous training.) However, there is a common misapprehension among NS players that infantry training can be increased indefinitely in quality and toughness, resulting only in an endless improvement of the quality of infantrymen and the nation’s military strength. This is such a common mistake that it has become necessary to address it here.

The first component is the toughness or the brutality of training. Many people believe that if they treat their soldiers like the Spartans, constantly being endlessly rough on them, sometimes even planning exercises that injure and kill failed troops, they will ‘weed out the weak’ or prepare their soldiers to be some kind of hardcore supersoldiers. This is of course not unknown in real life - obviously the real Spartans did that, and Imperial Japan even went as far as having military exercises where their soldiers were poked about with sharpened sticks to improve their tolerance of injury. However, in reality, military competence (and other competence) is not a product of people being incredibly tough on you. (Though some degree of toughness is useful.) Increasing the suffering of troops beyond what is necessary for their training just increases the chance that someone may be injured or killed or get sick (psychological injuries in training are also a real problem), either by sheer tough luck or by an over-eager drill sergeant. These people are lost to you as military resources.

(A common response to this is ‘ha ha, if they get injured than that’s Darwin at work’ - but this assumes that the people being injured got injured because they were weak or incompetent. This is of course not true - if you dial up the harshness endlessly you’ll injure people through a semi-random process. And even the people who are slightly less-than-perfectly competent would still be useful to your nation as soldiers.)

The other idea is that we should endlessly increase the quality and extent of training to boost military performance. This seems straight-forward - after all, if our soldiers are twice as competent, our army will be twice as strong, right? Nope. First of all, after you’ve reached a certain level of competence, doubling the extent of your training will not double your performance. (This is called ‘diminishing returns’ in economics). Second, even doubling your soldiers’ performance will not double their military value. A single supersoldier cannot be in two places at once, and so he cannot actually patrol the same amount of terrain that two regular soldiers can. A supersoldier - no matter how well they’re trained - is still vulnerable to mortar fire, MLRS strikes, and landmines, practically to the same extent as a regular soldier. (He might be able to spot some mines and avoid stepping on them, others are not practical to spot.) He can still get sick, suffer from traffic accidents, and so forth - only a small percentage of military casualties are from actually being shot by other soldiers in infantry combat.

In a long-term war between a nation that uses its military budget to train its infantry as supersoldiers and a nation that trains its military like RL US Marines are trained, I expect the latter nation to be at a serious advantage - not only will it be able to field more of its troops, armed with artillery, tanks, and IFVs, but it will be able to replace its casualties quicker (because training a replacement will take 7 months at the outmost - not a year). Now this does not mean you should not train your soldiers at all - as we covered, soldiers are professionals - but soldiers should be trained to a level of reasonable competence, not to some non-existent perfection.

Superb levels of skill and million-dollar equipment are only really useful for Special Forces - a relatively small subset of the infantry.

Some Unconventional Perspectives on Infantry


Before we finish this informative, it’s worth covering two specific forms of infantry doctrine that are sometimes brought up in discussions on NS:

Guerrilla/Militia/Partisan soldiers: Many people believe that if they arm their entire population, or maintain a force of potential militia troops ready for war, then they’ll be impossible to conquer, and maybe not even need a military. Some are so far gone into the guerrilla rabbit hole that they believe they can train their soldiers to fight as guerillas in the enemy territory. There are many people who believe this even outside the context of fantasy roleplaying - Howard Zinn, the famous socialist historian, believed this as well, for example. And this were true, this would be wonderful.

However, there is a bit of a problem: none of this is true.

Guerrilla soldiers are typically either civilians who have been trained only in a partial way, or specially-trained soldiers who are leading such civilians (in some cases, they’re soldiers who’ve been separated from their units and forced to join a popular resistance movement). In general, unless you’re actually specially trained for this purpose, the conventional troops you’re fighting against will have a major training advantage, and of course they’ll outgun you massively. Even the enemy’s logistics troops are going to have a training advantage.

This brings us to the first reality of guerilla combat: Guerillas will lose most fights against the enemy army. This doesn’t mean they’ll lose the war, but they’ll probably suffer incredible casualties. People talk a lot about Red Dawn as being this super-unrealistic portrayal of guerilla activity, but remember how Red Dawn ends - all of the main characters die, except two that run away.

Which brings us to the second reality of guerrilla combat - actual guerrillas do their best to avoid full-scale combat against the government’s combat troops. Attacks on enemy logistics, bureaucratic elements, and prisons are the guerrilla’s bread and butter, with some ambushes of combat units on the side - which is what the guys in Red Dawn do. Each time they confront the Soviets head-on, they do extremely badly.

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These guys? They all die.



This segues neatly into the terrible third reality of guerrilla combat - to succeed, guerrillas need to hide among the local citizenry. They do best in areas where law and order is destabilized - due to a failure of the local government, or due to disruptions brought up by a recent enemy invasion. The idea is very simple - the people feed the guerrillas, and as long as the enemy doesn’t know exactly where the guerrillas are, they can’t kill them. The downside, of course, is that sometimes the enemy will kill the local citizens instead of the guerillas, either as collateral damage or because they mistook them for guerrillas. Conversely, the guerrillas will often be forced to engage in robbery and other crimes to fund themselves.

It is nearly impossible for a guerrilla force to win without foreign support - this is why a guerrilla movement must engage in diplomacy all the time. Happily, if your guerrilla movement is being at least partly successful, you will often find someone who doesn’t like your enemy and wants to give you some money and MANPADs. A diplomatic RP about your guerrilla movement looking abroad for support would be fascinatingly interesting.

(It’s already obvious from the above that soldiers that fight as guerrillas abroad is the height of idiocy - if there’s not an existing guerrilla movement in the foreign country, they’re screwed.)

However, none of this is a viable replacement of real military forces. A supplement for them, certainly (every militaristic state worth its salt on NS has provisions for guerrilla warfare in case it gets conquered). But a replacement? Not if you actually like your nation’s people.

2. The other extreme, if you will, of infantry planning is to mechanize the infantry absolutely, to improve their firepower and maneuver. At its extreme, proponents of this worldview call for combining the infantry with tanks on the most basic level, forming ‘combined arms platoons’ with infantry and tanks mixed in to the point that a platoon would be composed of two tanks and two infantry squads riding IFVs. Hypothetically this would allow infantry to dominate enemies that don’t have this degree of firepower in most battlefields.

However, this has the disadvantage of being both logistically complex (in terms of the fact that tanks are more expensive and require more fuel, ammunition, and parts than lighter vehicles) and making the unit more complex to manage in battle than a separate tank or infantry platoons. In addition, this would require vastly increasing the amount of tanks used by military forces - currently the sheer quantity of tanks needed to accomplish this change is not available.

To my knowledge, no current military force uses this arrangement.

An alternate, and very common solution to a lack of mechanization and combined arms firepower in the low-level infantry-units is what’s sometimes called ‘cross-attachment’ - a method where an infantry unit temporarily has some amount of tanks, artillery, ot combat engineers attached to it. This is used by, for example, by the British military, as well as the Russian armed forces, who are rumored to have used this technique to great success in the 2014 Ukrainian conflict, where Russian Army battalions were reorganized as “Battalion Tactical Groups” several hundred strong, including small amounts of tanks and artillery that allowed them to act independently of dedicated tank and artillery units and fight the Ukrainians without a need to bring a larger Russian force into the country.

Afterword:


It is not possible, of course, in a document of this size to go over every element of infantry doctrine and organization. Even just covering my nation’s idiosyncratic view of tactics would require another article, just of this size. However, one hopes that this document has successfully demonstrated some of the basic facts and truths about infantry. It will be reviewed in the future, based on input from other players and as I learn more by my own reading.

To quote the instructors that taught in my 7th-grade Safe Bicycle class, “I don’t want you to think that this two-hour class has qualified you to ride a bicycle in traffic”. Rather, I would like this to be a beginning for your learning more about this topic. If you plan to engage in detailed, realistic (or even not very realistic) war roleplays or fiction writing you’d probably need to learn a bit more.

For this reason, I have consulted with some of my friends, and together we have come up with a list of films and books, both fiction and non-fiction, which you can turn to for information about tactics, strategy history, as well as fictional portrayals of infantry combat that can inspire your own writing.

Films about Infantry

(There endless sci-fi and fantasy movies with infantry in them. However, this list is only of movies that portray infantry combat or life in the armed forces more or less realistically. They are good examples for something to inspire your writing - but if you want real history, it’s best to read a history book.)

Ninth Company
Band of Brothers
Platoon
The Longest Day
Stalingrad (1993 film)
Red Dawn (1984) Obviously this film heroizes guerrilla warfare a bit too much, but the actual events - guerrillas fighting against the enemy’s logistic tail, receiving support from the main country, and in the end all dying... that’s exactly how it goes down.
Full Metal Jacket - the guy playing the Drill Sergeant is a real Vietnam veteran and drill instructor - he is adlibbing most of his lines from experience.
The Winter War
Black Hawk Down
The Pacific

Novels about Infantry

All Quiet on the Western Front
Storm of Steel - Imagine if Remarque fought in the trenches longer and actually liked it.
Sharpe novel series - Napoleonic in setting
In the Main Line of Attack - by Vasily Grossman


Non-Fiction Information about Infantry

FM-100-4. OPFOR Organization Guide - US military guide to military organizations of former Soviet countries (and other countries the US expected to fight).
FM 100-2-3. The Soviet Army: Troops, Organization, and Equipment
FM 7-8. Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad - Official US Army tactics manual
Soviet Mechanized Infantry Tactics by Lt. Col Yuri Veremeev
Military Operations in Urban Terrain - Marine Corps Manual
Approaching the Opponent in Frontal Assault
British Infantry organization and weapons
The Ambush
The Evolution of British Infantry Tactics in World War One Roger Daene
Truppenfuhrung - Nazi Germany’s Infantry Officer’s manual
Infantry Attacks by Erwin Rommel
An Officer’s Manual of the Western Front


Documentaries and Instructional Films

Funker350 - a veteran community and combat footage channel with helmetcam footage from the War on Terror
Section Fire and Maneuver - a UK military training video
The Somme: From Defeat to Victory - BBC documentary
Introduction to the US Army Rifle Squad tactics (US Army instructional video)
Individual Movement Techniques and Fireteam Formations (US Army instructional video)
What is A Fireteam
East German Infantry Assault Training

For more reading, you can always go look at the US Army Reading List
Last edited by Allanea on Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:11 pm, edited 10 times in total.
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Postby Tekeristan » Mon Apr 25, 2016 1:34 pm

Yea, seeing what some people do with special forces can be meh sometimes. But meh. :P

This was an interesting read/skim!

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Postby United Earthlings » Sat Apr 30, 2016 6:11 pm

May want to consider changing the first image of those Canadian Soldiers to something more recent from at least the 21st century, because why each individual have their own definitions of what something is or isn’t, it’s a little hard to consider something that’s currently celebrating its centennial to be well, modern.

so is Zaitsev in Enemy at the Gates:Technically speaking, Zaitsev was a sniper and not an infantryman. You of course can call a sniper an infantryman, rifleman, foot soldier, etc… but, it’s not completely accurate. The same as a tank crew are more generally known as tankers than infantry. Various militaries have even gone so far as to create separate service patches for the various technical service branches.

they’re not covered in thick layers of armor and they can’t move at Mach 1 at like fighter jets.:When using a figure of speech for comparison between two things in a poetic effect, non-metaphors are known as similes and generally contain the words “as” or “like”. Since, by all appearances context wise you appear to be using a simile, I adjusted the grammar accordingly.

Adding to the overlap of infantry definitions, in lieu of mechanized/motorized, some nations referred to them as armored infantry.

There’re arguments to be made for/against it, but generally, Airborne/Air Assault/Airmobile-Mountain/Arctic/Jungle-Marines/Assault & Special Forces have been classified all under the light infantry category. Furthermore, if you are going to have a whole breakdown of all the various types of light infantry that exist, you definitely need to at some point in the future add in Paramilitary forces AKA a gendarmerie, militias, guerrillas, insurgents, and so forth.

This typically ends up with your soldiers killed. Some armies - the Chinese particularly - actually perfected a form of this where their men would in fact run at the enemy en masse after sneaking up extremely closely to them and having their artillery first attack the foe en masse.: Slight historical correction, this tactic was known as {mass} infiltration of the lines and was generally done during the night to add to the concealment of their forces since the allies generally had the upper hand in air power and artillery which was dominate during the day with the mass attacks than preceding late at night or early morning hours. Once, the Korean War settled into the mostly static trench warfare period, this tactic generally fell out of misuse by the Chinese since with the lines then pretty much stabilizing the Chinese lost the ability to maneuver at an operational level.

When your characters fight in cities, the problems that they are facing will get worse - because buildings are quite sturdy, and impossible to see through, enemies will often be able to weather even the most brutal artillery assaults, and remain hidden in buildings: Not all cities are equal, therefore not all buildings are going to be sturdy or impossible to see through. Furthermore, technology and the advancement of weapons design can allow modern infantry {for a hefty price of course} to both see and punch through the most rigid building. The character of the fight will also be determined by the number of combatants, ROEs for both sides and operational objectives to be achieved. 200,000+ soldiers fighting to the death in a total war setting in a developed industrialized nation is going to be different than a few thousand fighting against a modern insurgency in a developing third world one.

Films and Novels about Infantry: If you’re going to list films which is first and foremost concerned with the value of entertainment and not accuracy, than except for maybe Band of Brothers the others should be removed from the list. If you feel a list of films/series are important than I would add in Black Hawk Down and the sequel to BoB, the Pacific as well as Generation Kill or even Lone Survivor. Many of those films also have a start as being based on a novel(s). Still while the movies/series are greatly dramatized, they are at least based on peoples actually experiences and events. Finally, their more modern at least in the regard they reflect the political environment at the time of their making, which is much closer to the present than say the 1930s or even the 1980s.

Non-Fiction Information about Infantry: A link should be added to the dozens of operational publications the US Army has created everything from FM ADRP 3.0 to FM-24 and beyond. As for the books themselves, I alone could probably list hundreds of them suffice to say Osprey publishing has a lot of good titles to fill in those gaps.

Edit: It occurred to me this post might be construed as "Whiny" and not hopefully as suggestions for improvement that I intended it to be, so on that note, overall I found the guide to be a good read as a introductory beginning.
Last edited by United Earthlings on Sat Apr 30, 2016 6:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Allanea
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Postby Allanea » Sat Apr 30, 2016 6:40 pm

so is Zaitsev in Enemy at the Gates:Technically speaking, Zaitsev was a sniper and not an infantryman. You of course can call a sniper an infantryman, rifleman, foot soldier, etc… but, it’s not completely accurate. The same as a tank crew are more generally known as tankers than infantry. Various militaries have even gone so far as to create separate service patches for the various service branches.


I think it's generally common to refer to the sniper as an infantryman. The dictionary definition calls infantrymen soldiers marching or fighting on foot, which snipers certainly do. Zaitsev specifically, at least as portrayed in the highly-fictionalized account in the film, starts out as a regular infantryman (the real Zaitsev first served in the Navy, and then arrived in the infantry division that took him to Stalingrad, and the rest is history.

There’re arguments to be made for/against it, but generally, Airborne/Air Assault/Airmobile-Mountain/Arctic/Jungle-Marines/Assault & Special Forces have been classified all under the light infantry category. Furthermore, if you are going to have a whole breakdown of all the various types of light infantry that exist, you definitely need to at some point in the future add in Paramilitary forces AKA a gendarmerie, militias, guerrillas, insurgents, and so forth.


You're right that those are subtypes of light infantry. I was not able to cover every subtype but my intend was to cover the ones most common.

Not all cities are equal, therefore not all buildings are going to be sturdy or impossible to see through. Furthermore, technology and the advancement of weapons design can allow modern infantry {for a hefty price of course} to both see and punch through the most rigid building.


I don't think you quite followed what I said. I reworded the OP a bit to make it better follow my intent.

Yes, there some buildings [U.S. suburban homes are the stereotypical example of this] where you can shoot through some of the building walls even with a pistol or a rifle, or see through the wall with some advanced infra-red equipment or some specific form of RADAR. There are also some buildings that have glass surfaces that might enable you to see something on the inside. But I was very specific in using the word buildings, that is to say, if I am on one street, and you are on another street, and there is an apartment building or even just a townhouse between us, it's generally going to be impractical for you to try and use your rifle or even your IFV gun to shoot at me. If we are 500 meters apart there are likely to be several entire houses between us, so it'll be impossible for us to see each other directly or hit each other even with tank guns, and we'd have to use UAVs to find each other and even these would be iffy.

I'd like to thank you for the film and book recommendations. I feel that it's important to have films that are at least vaguely realistic in portrayal in at least some aspects of war (for example, Red Dawn doesn't portray everything very realistically, but it has gotten the general idea right IMO), which can inspire players in writing their own posts.
Last edited by Allanea on Sat Apr 30, 2016 6:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby United States of PA » Tue May 03, 2016 12:52 am

Not a tag. Will read fully later but my quick excerpt impressed.
In other words, conservatives are generous with their own money, and liberals are generous with other peoples money.
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Postby Allanea » Fri Aug 05, 2016 12:32 pm

Bumping this a bit.
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Tekeristan
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Postby Tekeristan » Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:03 am

Mind commenting about beach/landing assaults as well as how to combat guerillas? What about in a nation that has essentially assembled a group dedicated towards guerilla efforts after an invasioninvasion before any fighting?

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Postby Allanea » Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:32 am

Combatting guerrillas is a hugely complex issue. It goes beyond a purely military aspect and to a strategic and national-planning aspect.

I'm not ready to address it except in the broadest terms. You could be well-served by reading any of the US military counterinsurgency manuals, but bear in mind that real-world military experts struggle with this issue.
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MInroz
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Postby MInroz » Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:13 am

God, why I didn't see this? This is a great help when I'm going to start writing about my soldiers.

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Postby The Free Republic of Taylor Swift » Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:16 am

Thanks for doing this.

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Postby The Manticoran Empire » Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:47 pm

Nice.
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Postby Allanea » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:11 pm

Updated to include the current link to the US Army reading list.
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Postby Gallia- » Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:15 pm

Allanea wrote:Combatting guerrillas is a hugely complex issue. It goes beyond a purely military aspect and to a strategic and national-planning aspect.

I'm not ready to address it except in the broadest terms. You could be well-served by reading any of the US military counterinsurgency manuals, but bear in mind that real-world military experts struggle with this issue.


It would be more relevant to read about the counter-insurgency campaigns of the USSR, Ba'athism, and Sri Lanka, surely? Unless you are referring to the Indian Wars? As the USA is mostly known for being terrible at counter-insurgency, taking its advice is a bit like taking the advice of an Ostfront officer on Soviet tactics and strategy. That is to say, anything they say that is true is going to be discovered by the more competent groups, in addition to the greater nuances that have eluded the USA, for mysterious reasons, for the past half century.
Last edited by Gallia- on Wed Aug 23, 2017 9:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Isapito » Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:27 am

On your comment about melee weapons while you are of course right that melee combat is exceedingly rare I suspect the statistics given are subject to survivor bias to some extent, someone who used a bayonet would be more likely to die, and as such would be unable to take the poll.

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Postby Allanea » Fri Oct 06, 2017 10:49 pm

Isapito wrote:On your comment about melee weapons while you are of course right that melee combat is exceedingly rare I suspect the statistics given are subject to survivor bias to some extent, someone who used a bayonet would be more likely to die, and as such would be unable to take the poll.


This seems an unusual claim.

Remember this is a poll of people who participated in melee combat.

Now, I admit fully that a person who ended up in melee combat may be more likely to die than someone who didn't. But it seems unusual to suggest that someone who stabbed their opponent with a bayonet might be more likely to die than someone who, say, hit them with a shovel or with a riflestock. Can you explain your suggestion more?
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Postby Gallia- » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:23 am

Isapito wrote:On your comment about melee weapons while you are of course right that melee combat is exceedingly rare I suspect the statistics given are subject to survivor bias to some extent, someone who used a bayonet would be more likely to die, and as such would be unable to take the poll.


You need some Moltke in your diet, sir.

The bayonet is not the first, but the last act, of battle.

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Postby Isapito » Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:12 pm

Allanea wrote:
Isapito wrote:On your comment about melee weapons while you are of course right that melee combat is exceedingly rare I suspect the statistics given are subject to survivor bias to some extent, someone who used a bayonet would be more likely to die, and as such would be unable to take the poll.


This seems an unusual claim.

Remember this is a poll of people who participated in melee combat.

Now, I admit fully that a person who ended up in melee combat may be more likely to die than someone who didn't. But it seems unusual to suggest that someone who stabbed their opponent with a bayonet might be more likely to die than someone who, say, hit them with a shovel or with a riflestock. Can you explain your suggestion more?

Perhaps the bayonet part was misleading but I'm sure you'd agree that if someone is in melee combat in modern warfare the chances are that something has gone drastically wrong. Maybe they ran out of ammo and had to break out of an encirclement that way, maybe their commander is to eager to get up close and personal, maybe they were selected or volunteer to raid an enemy position under the cover of darkness, maybe they're a bit mad. Either way if someone got into these situations has a higher than average chance of getting into more very dangerous situations and as a result dying. Now i'm not making the claim that melee was common, just that among those who survived the war those who got into melee are likely to be underrepresented statistically because a high proportion of people who were involved in some kind of melee charge died either in the actual charge itself or at a later date because the core reason why got into a melee fight still remained.
Last edited by Isapito on Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Allanea » Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:18 pm

No, I disagree with that altogether.

Obviously literal fighting with one's hands and feet is rare.

But military combat in what the Soviet military defines as close combat range (i.e. a range at which one can hypothetically hit one's enemy with a thrown object, or run up to them and stab them, even if no stabbing actually occurs) occurs as almost an inevitable part of modern combat, and indeed is becoming more and more common.
Last edited by Allanea on Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Isapito » Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:04 pm

In urban warfare and trench fighting sure but if you're in the middle of the Ukraine where there's miles upon miles of completely flat fields that would be less common. Additionally i'd imagine that the casualties among shock armies who were most famous for that kind of thing would be significantly higher too.

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Postby Allanea » Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:20 pm

Close combat is an important part of modern combat because while it is not the most lethal, it is often the most decisive.

It occurs almost universally except where the enemy has already been killed by artillery fire, or has chosen to flee.
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Postby Isapito » Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:35 pm

You crawl 600 meters through the grass to get close enough to chuck a grenade under concentrated mg, rifle and mortar fire then the result will certainly be decisive. The optimal range of combat is terrain dependent, when it is sufficiently open you're half just using infantry to pin the enemy while mortars and air support to the real heavy, statistically its what most combatants are killed by in open terrain, and if that isn't enough to produce a sufficiently decisive result you're just going to have to settle for it.

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Postby Allanea » Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:37 pm

Isapito wrote:You crawl 600 meters through the grass to get close enough to chuck a grenade under concentrated mg, rifle and mortar fire then the result will certainly be decisive. The optimal range of combat is terrain dependent, when it is sufficiently open you're half just using infantry to pin the enemy while mortars and air support to the real heavy, statistically its what most combatants are killed by in open terrain, and if that isn't enough to produce a sufficiently decisive result you're just going to have to settle for it.


The killing of combatants isn't the only way by which decision is achieved. If you recall the poll we started this discussion with, most close combat does not end in people being killed, but by people fleeing from the violence. This too is a form of decision.
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Postby Nancivania » Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:40 am

Dude, thanks for the Red Dawn spoiler
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2024: Age of Superpowers - Republic of India
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Postby Allanea » Thu Jan 04, 2018 11:38 am

Nancivania wrote:Dude, thanks for the Red Dawn spoiler


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