Fog of War

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Fog of War
« on: November 09, 2012, 12:50:53 PM »
I was thinking about the Assess move, and it occurred to me that the fog of war of th tactical environment was particularly dense in the 20th century.  In previous eras, you could stand in your formation and look around the battlefield.  But in WWII, firepower was so deadly that to stand up and have a gander puts you at serious risk of being brained by a sniper, or riddled by MG bullets.

In Tonight We Die as Men, there's an account of paratroopers fighting just inland of Normandy against stiff German resistance and it takes them several hours of enduring very heavy fire before they realize that the supporting unit on their flank is no longer there and that they're totally exposed.

Toward the end of the 20th century and into the 21st, radios and GPS become a lot more portable so that while the battlefield might still be horribly messy, more information is available about how units are doing.  (Though I don't want to overstate this.)

I'd love to hear more informed thoughts!

Re: Fog of War
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2012, 05:17:36 PM »
Absolutely, kit like BlueForce trackers (BFT) make things much easier. However, it's not bulletproof. I understand BFT doesn't work as well in built-up urban areas (i.e. cities). And the human factor will always be around, as will the fog of war.

Black Hawk Down is a great demonstration of this. Despite cutting edge C3I (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C4ISTAR), US forces had hell of a time trying to communicate clearly and effectively to deal with crises as they popped up. Questions and issues that made Somalia 1993 so tricky: multiple downed helicopters, no proper plan or assets in place to medivac the high unexpected number of casualties, figuring out where the mobs of fighters are turning up, dealing with the repercussions of staying in the area of operations way beyond the mission's expected timeframe, and just where exactly all the friendlies are positioned?

Just because you have the tech doesn't mean it'll work perfectly each and every time. The US forces in Mogadishu had AWACS overhead (read: aerial surveillance) but there was plenty of communications breakdowns in the intelligence loop from the airplane to the tactical operations centre (TOC) to the guys who needed the information on the ground.  

Mechanically, the Assess move is just as significant as it is in other time periods:

"Great, you rolled a 8. The BFT on your Humvee's dashboard shows Hitman Three-One about a klick north, holding up by the hotel. But you're getting conflicting reports over the comms that Hitman Three-One is actually west of your position, in contact with Iraqis near that ridgeline. What do you do?"

"TOC says they'll get back to you about about the friendly convoy's location in five mikes. They urge you to stay frosty and sit tight. But looking out across the street, the mobs are getting restless. Do you stick, or move?"

Also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Anaconda

Classic cluster**** based on erroneous assumptions driving mission planning and bad calls. Also, really bad terrain.

It's really perfect for a game of The Regiment, with lots of maps laying around and cool special forces ninjas destroying things with drone custom moves ("Operator" playbook).
« Last Edit: November 10, 2012, 05:26:54 PM by powerVIOLENCE »

Re: Fog of War
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2012, 02:13:42 PM »
I was thinking about the Assess move, and it occurred to me that the fog of war of th tactical environment was particularly dense in the 20th century.  In previous eras, you could stand in your formation and look around the battlefield.  But in WWII, firepower was so deadly that to stand up and have a gander puts you at serious risk of being brained by a sniper, or riddled by MG bullets.

Yeah, it was bad, but also remember, in previous periods, communication was really difficult, and multilingual armies were common.  So while the general on the hill could see the whole battle, it was difficult for him to affect it.  Also, terrain still hid units, firearms belched smoke that obscured the battlefield, couriers were intercepted and shot.  And night!  The (possibly apocryphal) Battle of Kar├ínsebes (possibly) occurred when an Austrian army ran into itself at night (schnapps was involved) and routed itself.