View Full Version : Sizing it Up

Home - Discussion Forums - News - Reviews - Interviews

New reviews, interviews and news

New in the Discussion Forum

Pages : [1] 2

April 27th, 2005, 05:37 PM
I am working on a project and I have gotten to a point where I need to figure out the size of the military units...

In the US military, at the most basic level, we have 4 man fire teams.
2 fire teams plus one squad leader make up a squad. That's 9 guys.

The fire team makes sense because it is based around the SAW. You have the Team Leader (TL), Automatic Rifleman who uses the SAW (AR), the 203 Gunner (G) and a rifleman (R).

The squad makes sense because it is based around flanking. While one fire team shoots at (and distracts) the enemy, the other maneuvers around to the flank and wipes them out...

This is all fine and dandy for this weapon assortment and type of movement but I am trying to get some input on the numbers that people think would be good for the military that I am working with.
They all use semi-automatic weapons, nothing automatic. They almost always fight mounted (not on creatures, on vehicles that hover). They use lances or bayonets in the initial attack and then circle around and use the rifles to pick off anyone who is left. They are primarily a raider force.

Right now the number I am thinking is 5 and here are my reasons.
1. Pentagon - Geometric shapes for battle formations just seem to work best, and since it is a warrior culture the pentagon would also be intrigated into architecture and other aspects of life. Really, this could work with any shape though... Another plus for the pentago is the fact that it has a pointy end.
2. Two-man teams - There are two two-man teams and a team leader. This was nice because it started as an idea that everyone has a partner in this society, and when they become a TL they have to be willing to sacrifice this person that has essentially become their other half (and by sacrifice I mean kill). That way it had the nice twist of officers being tested on whether or not they were willing to do what they had to even if they really didn't want to. Other than that, two-man teams mean that there can be bounding movements, one can cover while the other moves, one shoots while the other reloads, etc.
3. Nice round number - As far as this goes, aside from the TL, there is an even number of people. It would look good in parades (2 guys front, 2 guys back, TL in the middle), it works in formations, it's not a wierd number to arrange people into...
4. Small number - Because they are a raider force they are really organized into a large fighting structure. Five people is small enough to hide somewhere, but still big enough to ambush a group of travellers and run away...

Like I said, they are raiders, so there wouldn't be any HUGE arrangements, but how many of these groups do you think would escort a convoy do you think?

Any input you can give is good, any other reasons this number is good is also appreciated, as are any numbers you think would work better and why.

April 27th, 2005, 05:51 PM
You could reduce it to 4 and have two 2-man teams, one of them the team leader. Wasn't it the square that gave Roman armies the edge in combat?

Or boost it to six and have three two-man teams. Why kill off one of your own just to prove a point?

April 27th, 2005, 07:18 PM
Like I said, they are raiders, so there wouldn't be any HUGE arrangements, but how many of these groups do you think would escort a convoy do you think?

Well if the convoy is a single truck then I would put atleast 12 men to protect it because if there was five it then a single rocket launcher or grenade could terminate them, as in 12 atleast half would live providing the convoy with more protection. But I say the more vehicles, every one needs the same amount of men.

April 27th, 2005, 08:18 PM
Why kill off one to prove a point? To prove a point... The military does this a LOT and it rarely makes sense.

Besides, you don't put a unit leader into one of the two teams because he has to be free to move where he needs to move. That's why squads are made up of 9 men, two fireteams and a TL... that way if Alpha has the enemy pinned, the TL can take Bravo and swing right, but if Bravo has them pinned then the TL is free to hook up with Alpha and swing around.

It wasn't a square that gave the Romans an edge, it was mobility. Mobility like having a leader who doesn't have to stay in one spot to give his team the equal firepower... The benefit of Roman squares was that when the enemy was using a phalanx which was hard to maneuver since it is just a long line, the Romans could run around the side and render the phalanx formation useless.

On to the convoy thing...
As far as a single blast of a handgrenade killing everyone, you fix that with your formations. When patrolling you keep distance, you don't bunch up, the reason for this is to prevent one grenade from killing everyone. The kill radius of a hand grenade is 5 meters (15 meter damage radius) so they travel 15 meters apart or 30 (if they are in overwatch).
You can't have twelve troops for every single vehicle either. To give a realistic perspective on it, 1 in 8 members of a convoy in Iraq (in the Army) is an infantryman. This means that if you are ambushed, only 1 in 8 are trained as fighters who will not freeze up during the fight... The other 7/8 may have only fired a rifle once in basic training. There is a limited number of infantrymen, just like there will always be a limited number of specialized warriors, but anyone can drive a truck (no offense to military truck drivers, your MOS brings us food and ammo... ;))

April 28th, 2005, 02:38 PM
I'd say you've got the right idea but there are a couple of things I'd point out.

1) Raiders tend to rely on things like strength in numbers. If they're ripping off trade convoys and stuff of that nature (which are usually well defended) then they've got to have the weight to take it with minimal loss. Five man squads sound more like highly trained special forces or something.

2) With a five man squad, even one casualty is a serious problem. Assuming they don't leave their dead (I would think not with your partner system, unless they both die) then someone's got to drag the body. That mean's you're down to three (two if they're dragging through harsh conditions like deserts). This presents a real problem as your squad's effectiveness is cut in half by a single downed member. In something like a nine man squad, one or two casualties doesn't create so large a problem.

3) Their favored attack pattern is very barbaric, which suits raiders just fine. The hover car things are also a great choice because they allow for a quick getaway, which is important for raiders of any type. However, with a five man squad the bold charge with lances seems a little risky. In the age of firearms, close combat weapons usually take a backseat role. If they're being fired at during the charge and are offering no counter attacks until they get within striking distance, they're probably going to get shot up. I think it would be more practical if they led the charge with weapons ablaze (four shooting, one driving) then pulled out the lances after getting close to skewer any who still stood.

I'm interested to know how the rest of the military hierarchy is laid out. Would you care to divulge?

April 28th, 2005, 06:01 PM
The idea that they run into the trade convoy with lances is more of a shock value. The convoy aren't supposed to notice/know what's up.
I figured this either works because the raiders are good on camo and good at ambushes, or else people assume they aren't raiders...

Basically, there is a whole civilization that travels the trade routes, and they hold a monopoly. Eventually the other traders decide that they should try and convoys are lost in the desert to the "spirits" that this one civilization always talked about having to fight off... In reality, they are ambushing the convoys to maintain superiority, so maybe the people going through could just think they are friendly until all hell breaks loose.
This works somewhat as long as they make sure everyone dies.

They don't bother bringing home the dead... I guess you could call it a religious thing of, "if your partner dies then you were chosen to be one of the loners" and then end up becomming a TL (since they have no vested interest in the lives of other team members and can make decisions without having emotion attached to it).

As far as the five man group went, it wasn't a group of 5 total, just a group of 5 working together.

As far as military hierarchies go... I don't understand flight squadrons at all, but platoon sizes change based on the unit type. Basic infantry have 4 or 5 squads to a platoon, and 4 or five to a company, and after that it becomes an issue of how many people you have at your post. Compared to MPs or supply though, the structure is entirely different...

April 29th, 2005, 09:55 AM
Hmmmm, I'm also having trouble imagining hover vehicle raiders attacking with lances, especially if these surprise ambushes are taking place in the desert. It's a matter of range. Some deserts provide more cover than others, but how easy would it be for them to hide within effective ambush range, if they're using lances? If they lie in wait for a convoy to pass, I guess that means the hover vehicles are turned off, and they have to be really close to where the convoy passes to achieve surprise. And how do they know exactly where the convoy will go, in that case?

If I were commanding such a raider unit, I certainly wouldn't use the lances to ambush when I had semi-automatic weapons available. Stay at a distance, shoot the convoy guards, and then use the lances on the panicking merchants, seems much more effective than being target practice.


April 29th, 2005, 11:26 AM
Interesting world. I wonder if the convoy civilization has a ritual combat thing where select members become raiders temporarily? They then attack other tribes traveling the convoy routes, maybe in an attempt to win some small prize.

It could even be a matter of honor, sort of like taking coup - touching an enemy and escaping unharmed to show your bravery.

Something like that would be important to protect wells and oasis along a route from bandits and outcasts.

I wonder if the convoy accepts travelers to come with them?

Hereford Eye
April 29th, 2005, 12:33 PM
I'm on the 'wondering about convoy defense' side of the discussion. We've evolved to automatic weapons which means we've evolved to carrying a lot of ammunition around because full auto spends a lot of bullet. It doesn't hit much either. Once watched "The Infantry Platoon in Night Defense" at Ft Benning, the demo using full tracers to dramatically demonstrate the firepower of a 1960's rifle platoon. All that fire power was never able to 100% defend against an all-out assault. Bad guys still got through. Despite that. it has its use, obviously, and should prove very helpful to the convoy defenders who can carry more ammo than the raiders.

The raiders only get the element of surprise the first raid. After that, I'm looking for them to attack. I don't know where or when but I am expecting them. I check out the maps of the route I'm taking and figure where I'd ambush me and then decide how I'd best repel me attacking me. The entire route gets analyzed. Then, I put my air support at places and times I am most likely to need them. I am not going to be correct all the time or even most of the time but my preparations make it very diffciult for your raiders to enjoy the success of their first attempt over and over again. Your raiders are gonna pay a price in attrition just as my convoys will. So, in the story, who has the greater resources?

If I can afford an army, then that army is never more than 30 minutes away from my convoy.

April 30th, 2005, 11:36 PM
For starters, there is no air support.
The big thing about the ambushes is that the traders don't KNOW that othertraders are being ambushed... They hear stories that ghosts wipe out entire convoys, this myth is perpetuated by the convoy civilization who also say the same thing even though they are the ones ambushing the traders... As long as everyone dies, then the myth can go on and people wouldn't necessarily be suspicious of people approaching (maybe) but the other thought on how they know the routes is:
They lie in waiting at strategic points. I can't in any amount of research figure out why any of the desert nomads go the direction they do, they just always go the same way... The only real way of determining where people go at random is which way is easiest, and then just hide there, maybe in a hole, until the enemy is close enough to spring an ambush.

Also keep in mind that there are small scale traders going on the trade routes for profit while the enemy is an organized band of warriors committed to controlling the trade routes, it make it a lot easier on the convoy civ I think...

After devising all this (and evolving it as you asked questions) I came up with one good conflict. Someone lives to tell the tale.