Practical Battle Planning

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Practical Battle Planning

Unread postby Bush Leagues » Mon May 25, 2015 3:56 am

Hello all.

One thing I've done occasionally in my spare time is look over detailed battle reports of actual battles in history - famous ones like Agincourt, Cannae, Midway, and others as well. I look over the various troop movements, composition of forces, strategies and tactics used by the commanders. Naturally I do this for our featured time period as well. :D

One thing I noticed as I read these things is that I don't really understand the thinking behind a lot of the decision-making that happens. So, I look at a particular battle, and I see how the generals maneuvered their guys, and what their tactics were. But I find myself constantly wondering "why did you do that? Why did you perform this maneuver as opposed to something else? Are you unable to use the woods on your flank to your advantage somehow? Why are dedicating your reserves now, as opposed to later or earlier in the battle?"

I question the "why" aspect of battles with distressing frequency, and I don't really understand the thinking behind them. I know about the big obvious things like "don't get surrounded", "protect your flank", those kinds of things, but the intricacies of actual command are beyond me.

I was wondering if anyone had any good resources that go into these subjects. Before anyone asks, I have "The Art of War", have read it (with commentary) at least 2 or 3 times, but that's not what I'm looking for. While a great manual, it tends to be a bit too "big picture" talking about the war as a whole for what I'm looking for here. I'm looking more on the level of an individual battle - how does one decide what the best course of action is, and then how does one actually go about executing that plan?

Thanks to everyone who can offer any help.
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Re: Practical Battle Planning

Unread postby Bush Leagues » Tue May 26, 2015 7:03 am

I found a little bit that kind of information, courtesy of a forum dedicated to military defense.

I found a link to a United States Marine Corp manual called "Warfighting", from 1997. You can find it here, courtesy of Clausewitz.com.

From the Foreword wrote:Very simply, this publication describes the philosophy which
distinguishes the U.S. Marine Corps. The thoughts contained
here are not merely guidance for action in combat but a way of
thinking. This publication provides the authoritative basis for
how we fight and how we prepare to fight. This book contains
no specific techniques or procedures for conduct. Rather, it
provides broad guidance in the form of concepts and values. It
requires judgment in application.


The website itself, Clausewitz.com, dedicated to the Prussian military thinker who helped to define modern military thought. It seems to be a decent resource, although I have quite a bit of digging to do.

My purpose for attempting to delve into this was partially for understanding into an interesting subject, but also for a less important bit - tabletop wargaming with a friend. His nickname for me on his Skype is "No-Wins Tactical Genius", denoting that while I play well, I just can't seem to win a game, although I've been doing better lately. Sisters of Battle always fail me, despite being my favorite. :lol:

Anyway, I was hoping for information to help me win in these matches, but as I read the manual I linked above, "Warfighting", I realize that command is much more about the individual thinking, understanding the elements of his forces available and the enemy's, and more about abstract concepts like individual will, tempo, and initiative. Things you can't measure, but are immeasurably important. I've realized that just understanding my force, the opposing force, and solving the question "what is the best plan available to me for victory" is all that is really needed to improve my skill in these games.

To that extent, a detailed tactical guide is almost counter-productive, for fear of becoming predictable and adhering too much to doctrine, which would stifle initiative, creativity, and surprise. As "Warfighting" mentions at one point, "The officer's greatest weapon is his mind."

I intend to continue looking into this subject and will continue to inform you all of any progress I find. Should anyone find anything, I would appreciate hearing it.

EDIT: It seems Mr. Clausewitz's writings themselves are very much what I was looking for, and Clausewitz.com has them all readily available. Anyone interested in this subject would be wise to look at this site.
Currently playing: Android: Netrunner LCG , Shadowrun (tabletop), and Warhammer Ancient Battle.

Pan Feng can destroy this Hua Xiong! A Han Fu ROTK IX After-Action Report.
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Re: Practical Battle Planning

Unread postby Nivarnaxi » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:50 am

I do not comment on stories like this.
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Re: Practical Battle Planning

Unread postby Bush Leagues » Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:55 am

Nivarnaxi wrote:I do not comment on stories like this.


I can tell. :lol:
Currently playing: Android: Netrunner LCG , Shadowrun (tabletop), and Warhammer Ancient Battle.

Pan Feng can destroy this Hua Xiong! A Han Fu ROTK IX After-Action Report.
One of the best posts ever about Pan Feng.
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Location: New Iberia. LA

Re: Practical Battle Planning

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Mon Jun 29, 2015 11:52 pm

Bush Leagues wrote:
Nivarnaxi wrote:I do not comment on stories like this.


I can tell. :lol:


:lol:

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