Vote For Us
The Axis Art of (online) War,
The Tao of Blitzkrieg
Provided by OKW
|Posted on Thursday,
May 24 @ 01:59:17 CDT by Der Held
writes "WWIIOL will bring unique challenges and opportunities to the dedicated
Axis player, particularly those committed to gaining rank and influence. The chance to
succeed when pitted against historical precedent, to "change" history, is
enticing in and of itself. And what armchair historian doesn't occasionally wonder
"what if..." or "what would I have done differently in this or that
situation, if the job had been mine"?
But things are somewhat different this time around; Axis and Allies alike benefit both
from 20/20 hindsight and from the accumulated knowledge gained from the conflicts of the
subsequent years, particularly the importance of air power, and of combined arms
techniques. So one might say that in some respects the field is level in the sense that
both sides are equally influenced by modern military doctrine.
With that in mind, this article is directed to those burgeoning tacticians of the Reich
who will be forced to develop new techniques to overcome historical and virtual obstacles.
Do you have what it takes? Diplomacy, codebreaking, and spies will have no place in
WWIIOL; stripped of real world political and sociological context and considerations,
success in this war will require innovative, purely military solutions to conventional
military problems. WWIIOL will be virtual war in a vacuum: pure, simple, and sublime.
Well, maybe not so simple....
All of what follows is just a thought exercise.
Let us consider, for a moment, some potential prerequisites for the successful prosecution
of an online war, and with particular regard to the application of the wisdom of Sun Tzu.
ROCK/SCISSORS/PAPER or HOW TO USE YOUR BEST WEAPONS TO THEIR GREATEST EFFECT
Everyone knows the children's game of rock/scissors/paper. In the game, each item is
superior to one of the other items, equal to its like, and vulnerable in turn to a third.
This is a useful paradigm for understanding the dynamics of combat, as the analogy is
appropriate and does not easily break down. It identifies what enemy elements we may
engage with maximum effectiveness without similarly endangering ourselves. It allows us to
know the enemy, and to know ourselves. Let's apply this rock/scissors/paper model to
examples of ground warfare in the opening campaign of WWIIOL from the Axis perspective.
1) Infantry Infantry are at their greatest advantage when engaging lone anti-tank
units, whose big bore weapons are not suited to defending against infantry assault.
Infantry are on equal terms with enemy infantry; alone, neither have a decisive advantage.
Infantry are at a grave disadvantage against tanks in WWIIOL Blitzkrieg, a condition only
somewhat ameliorated by the later prolific use of portable AT weapons (panzerfaust,
2) Panzers Panzers are at their most effective when engaging unsupported infantry,
particularly when those panzers have infantry support themselves. Panzers are mostly on
equal terms with enemy tanks; in the opening year of the war, heavier Allied tank armor
and guns (on the Char1b, for example) are offset by Axis speed. Panzers are at some
disadvantage against allied AT guns, but their's do not even approach the difficulties
experienced by Allied armor when confronted with our devasting 8.8cm AA/AT dual purpose
gun (referred to hereafter as the "88"). Panzers (in 1940, anyway) should make
use of their best asset-speed-to be effective.
3) Anti-Tank AT weapons are most effective when engaging tanks (obviously). German
AT weapons, at their worst, are on even terms with their Allied counterparts. At their
best, the 88 is the shining exception to the rule, in a class by itself, and (if properly
employed) quite probably the key to Axis victory in France. AT weapons, even 88's, are at
a severe disadvantage against infantry. Those erstwhile commanders who will assign
missions and develop new tactics for this game would do well to remember the devastating
power of their 88's, particularly when supported by infantry (say, a minimum of 1
sniper/spotter and 1-2 machinegunners), who can repel the inevitable enemy infantry
"Thus it is said that one who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be
endangered in a hundred engagements. One who does not know the enemy but knows himself
will sometimes be victorious, sometimes meet with defeat. One who knows neither the enemy
nor himself will invariably be defeated in every engagement" - Sun Tzu, ch. 3
At it's core, the concept of rock/scissors/paper lies at the very heart of combined arms
theory. This is the Tao of Earth.
THE AIR WAR
So far we've looked at the two-dimensional (earth) components of combined arms that are
due to make retail release. Artillery, apparently, won't be around for a while, so we'll
leave it be for now. Now we add the most important element, that of the third dimension,
the Z axis, (heaven). Let's take a look at the importance of the air war, first in its own
right, and second in terms of action in the air affecting events on the ground.
Fighters are the kings of the battlefield. In the air, fighters are superior to anything
else except (perhaps) another fighter. From the ground, only AA fire can touch it, and you
will recall that it is we who command the world's best AA gun, the 88. Fighters exist to
own the sky; you cannot have control of the air without them.
The Axis will, I suspect, begin the war in a state of air parity. That is, evenly matched
(or slightly outnumbered) in number of pilots and battlefield accessability. Parity is a
free for all, neither side with clear advantage. While in a condition of air parity,
ground attack is a decidedly risky business due to the presence of so many enemy fighters.
Mission planners will (I should hope) likely post primarily fighter missions in the
earliest days of the war. Wresting control of the air away from the British and French
will be, I predict, the Axis' greatest challenge in France. Once our 109's have pushed the
Hurricanes and Spits back, and our fighters/troops have denied the enemy its forward
airbases, the Luftwaffe will have achieved local air superiority. I cannot stress enough
Germany's need for well-ordered fighter squadrons in WWIIOL.
Air superiority is the green light for general offensive maneuvers, whether on the ground
or in the air. An effective blitzkrieg can't be executed without it. This is the right
time for ground attack (Jabo) missions...let the stuka drivers out of their cages and turn
them loose to hunt. This is the Tao of Heaven.
What does combined arms really mean? Air and ground services acting in concert to deny the
enemy any advantage, and simultaneously allowing us the flexibility to attack him by the
most appropriate and effective means. This is the Tao of Heaven and Earth.
"Thus one who excels at warfare first establishes himself in a position where he
cannot be defeated while not losing any opportunity to defeat the enemy. For this reason,
the victorious army first realizes the conditions for victory, and then seeks to engage in
battle. The vanquished army fights first, and then seeks victory. One who excels at
employing the military cultivates the Tao and preserves the laws; therefore, he is able to
be the regulator of victory and defeat." - Sun Tzu, ch.4
Thanks for reading what is, upon review, a too-lengthy and only somewhat coherent article,
but if you take nothing else away from your time here I hope you are inspired to learn
more about the Art of War.
Some advanced topics likely to be adressed next time:
BE LIKE WATER
COMMUNICATIONS AND COORDINATION
Who is your squad's communications officer?
Vae Victis (Woe to the conquered), Ulrich"