Monday, July 16, 2012

EOW skirmish combat 4: firing first

O.k. so we are in the middle of our apocalypse-in-progress novel:  for the third time.  The zombies are toast, but our ex-neighbors who have become a little hungry.  It's cannibal time!

Now, again, if it just you and a little boy pushing around a shopping cart, there is not much room for "tactics."  You are a maneuver element of one, and it's point and shot time.  I suppose if I could give any advise to that situation, I would say, get out of The Road: find a safer, happier novel.

O.k., so your stuck in The Road.  All the character spots in safer novels were taken.  This likely means your a cannibal, and have a group of cannibal friends.  But we will say this is a little early in the disaster, and there are groups of you with a variety of weapons.  What real-world techniques might you use to see that you come out ahead.

And here we come to an odd one.  It makes a certain amount of sense, but is stated in a more generalistic way than I would have thought warranted.  However, given the people in question, what I would have thought, is somewhat beside the point.

In the chaos and confusion which most combat situations quickly become, if they don't start off that way, if in doubt you want to be on the side that starts shooting first.

Combat Effectiveness: Cohesion, Stress, and the Military Vounteer Military
Sam C. Sarkesian, Editor, Sage Publications, London, 1980.

In a more recent case of specific case of a specific reaction to painful experience, after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israeli analysts focused on the gap between plans and reality in the turmoil of combat. In a system under attack, only a fraction of the information flowing is dependable, Amnon Sella argued. (citation). The best approach, in his view is to achieve maximum volume and speed of fire, in keeping with the old French adage "audace, audace, toujours audace," [audacity, audacity, always audacity [from Danton)] and with Rommel's observation that, in meeting engagements on the unit level, the side that opens fire first usually wins (citation) page 29.
Note, that Rommel went so far as to have his units firing as they advance.  He did this during the German conquest of France, where he was one of the lead units, and did so latter in the desert.

On a similar note:

The Human Face of War
John Storr, Birmingham War Studies, London, 2009

Almost any lethal object impacting or passing near an individual will reduce participation temporarily. This will be exacerbated by the weight, signature and reputation of the source of the fire. The effect is markedly temporary - it passes soon after the fire stops.  Thus "winning the fire fight' is tangible.  Lietenant-Colonel Lionel Wigram remarked in Sicily in 1943 that either British Bren Guns or German MG42s [medium maching guns] were heard in battle, but never both together (citation) p. 89.
When we  were discussing casualties earlier, we noted how few people actually hit what they are aiming for.  But winning the fire fight makes a difference.  You are firing, and your enemy is diving for cover.

Firepower of course interacts with surprise.  Originally I was going to put the following within the surprise section that is coming up, but it seemed to be more pertinent here.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your work! As soon as I get a few days off I'm going to print these posts and your Skirmishing with Light Arms series.

So first contact lay down a bunch of fire, then reevaluate?


russell1200 said...

GK: I got rid of the double post, it happens to me as well.

As best as I can tell, shoot first, ask questions is what Rommel would do, and he was an awsome tactical commander in WW1. One exception would be if you have the possiblity of increasing your level of shock/surprise. They are larger force multipliers.

Another exception might be if running away was an option.