Following a battle c1984 Soviets against British between me and Phil Shaw, the following further thoughts came up:
The rules are not all that clear who can do overrun attacks and who can't, and we are not sure about the results of a failed attack. Particular example: 2 x FV438 Stands, 1 x Scorpion Stand and 1 x Spartan OP Stand all dug-in in hull down emplacements behind a hedgeline along a road, and facing across the road.
Mark Bevis continues his series of articles commenting on and examining Modern Spearhead - this article originally appeared in the SOTCW's Journal No.46 (December 2002/January 2003).
They are assaulted by 5 Stands of Soviet infantry armed with RPG-7 and RPG-18s. In reality 14 vehicles virtually turret down all armed with GPMG (and some 76mm HESH and occasional canister), being attacked by 1-1/2 infantry companies, say 3 platoons of 24 men, and another 40 men or so, carrying between them 14 x RPG-7, 14 x LMG, numerous RPG-18. The Soviets have to cross the open road to get to the British. Who would win? In support the British OP has a full regiment of 24 x M109A2, with a platoon of 3 x Challengers 2100m to the rear picking off the infantry's BTR-60s and supporting T-55s. The Soviets only have the battalion 120mm mortar battery on call. The artillery support would sort it easily I would imagine. In our example the net result was a draw, but as the British were Veteran and the Russians Regular, the British won, and the infantry retreated 1200m through an entire regiment! It is the latter distance we had trouble with, as in reality the infantry would have gone to ground in the fields just before crossing the road, where a wall gave them some cover. We think infantry assaults that fail should go to ground, i.e. be suppressed, 3" (300m) in front of the enemy position, or fall back to the nearest cover to the rear.
This idea of Phil's is a pearler. In most rules recce troops just tend to be extra light combat troops, and tend to suffer accordingly. Spearhead tries to get round this by in effect treating recce units as extra artillery OPs, which is fine, but Phil's idea goes a quantum leap better, to really reflect reconnaissance in progress. In real life recce units advancing use cover to full effect and move by bounds, often dismounting from vehicles and walking to the next bush or wall. As soon as fired on would withdraw to cover under smoke, recovering casualties and reporting enemy fire positions. Quite often they have-more or better optical equipment or in modern armies, radio intercepts and surveillance radars, etc.
The suggestion is this: Recce Companies and Battalions that have a command arrow can operate on Advance orders as normal. Alternatively they can operate in Recce Mode, following an advance arrow as normal but with the movement rate reduced to: 1/3rd if Green, 1/2 if Regular, 2/3rd if Veteran. They cannot fire at all in Recce Mode. The benefit of this is that if fired on they are treated as if in heavy cover i.e. -2 hit modifier. Thus they are likely to suffer few casualties, but will reveal enemy positions. We suggest that advancing Recce units can switch between Recce Mode and Advance orders each turn as desired, without an order change.
One thing that keeps happening is that we allow moving OPs to call in artillery fire. One reason is that we just forget, but also it should be allowed otherwise an advancing army can never have indirect fire support, as the OP attached to the moving battle group must be moving all the time.
John Moher, one of the authors, commented on some parts of this article in the SOTCW's Journal 48 (Christmas 2003) and you can read his reply reproduced here in Thoughts & Responses.
Contributor: © 2002 Mark Bevis.