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Re: [GZG] Artillery considerations

From: "Tom B" <kaladorn@g...>
Date: Tue, 8 Jul 2008 13:26:36 -0400
Subject: Re: [GZG] Artillery considerations

Gzg-l mailing list'v
e seen discussions here of why artillery should be more lethal in the
future. I don't disagree with them (John and Allan make good points and
could make more points in favour of it).

BUT there has to be more to it. If artillery and ortillery are that
devastating, then you'd never field an army if you could avoid it or it
would look profoundly different. In a D&D campaign, you got a good
sample of
this if you had available wizards who could cast evocation spells -
formations of soldiers died like flies under the bombardment of
wizards who were immune to non-magical counterfire and hard to hit with
latter. So why would you ever build a castle in this world since it is
a target? (Yes, George Patton, I heard you!) Why would you field and
that is similarly mostly a target?

So to understand why artillery might not be the last word, we have to
understand what the ubiquitous technology means in the counter-artillery
sense. Possibilities:

(And yes, as John says, this is 'what if' and inherently arguable until
stars fade...)

1) Ubiquity of recce and armed drones means a bad situation for enemy
detected during setup and tear down or transit between FPs.
2) Powerful counterbattery assets mean that you get a shot, but then you
can't shoot again for a time while you displace. This limits artillery's
turn-to-turn presence in a game (or moment to moment in the battle, if
3) Point defenses can now knock out kinetic weaponry and portable
ATGMs/GLs/RRs. I'm guessing if this trend continues, stopping incoming
bomblets or penetrators may well be a possibility (or at least making
less likely to work out).
4) Area defenses are getting pretty impressive. This does bode ill for
vehicles including larger armed drones. This means artillery shells
have a tough envelope to get through. To justify air vehicles in this
setting, they must be flying tanks or super stealthy.
5) If you are a defender, you may have your own constellation of killer
or ground based weapons that can take out enemy satellites used for
and coordination and geopositioning. That can attrit enemy artillery
6) The ubiquity of dangerous artillery with a foe and the presence of
drones, etc. means that artillery logistics can be compromised by
This might also serve to limit fire missions because ammunition resupply
be challenging.
7) EW abilities have increased and perhaps will be able to jam enemy
heads in the artillery or guidance in the ortillery.
8) Your air and artillery assets will be going after his, which might
them busy enough they're not going after your infantry/armour.
9) Target stealth and ECM/countermeasures/decoys may get to the point
you have trouble pinpointing your target - yes, there are three tanks in
field, but where exactly?
10) Powered Armour may be immune to conventional AP artillery rounds, of
course an anti-PA round could be developed...

On the attacker's side:

1) If you control space, your fleet can provide gunnery support and
geolocation services. It can also provide advanced battlespace
It can also serve as a home for orbit-to-surface cruise missiles,
and strike fighters.
2) You can deploy (even if your ships eventually mostly leave) a
constellation of disposable, cheap, redundant satellites to give you
coverage (and the defender can use similar cheap, disposable, redundant
satellites in defense). This simply becomes a matter of numbers,
and luck to see who ends up with superiority and the matter may take
quite a
time to resolve itself.
3) Stealth artillery shells or artillery shells with sensors
4) Armed and unarmed recce drones - armed ones can strike against
counterbattery, against area defenses, and there may be EW variants that
mess with defender's countermeasures (lasing targets, marking them
with a beacon, etc).
5) Exceptional artillery range and accuracy. If you win the range war
the US MRLS in the war with Iraq), you can engage enemy artillery from
outside its counterbattery range. That's generally unpleasant for the

Lots of paper, scissor, rock, repeat.

The only sort of thing that one can be sure of is that if you want a
that isn't dominated by artillery, you do have to model the 'full depth
battlefront'. SG2 did this by abstractly handling the Air Defense
Environment. You could leverage similar design philosophy in handling
artillery - by having an Artillery Defense Environment that abstracts a
of these sorts of issues - the airstrikes, the logistical issues,
counterbattery, etc. - and serves to limit the effect of artillery on
tabletop. That's probably the least involved method and really might not
a bad approach.

If artillery does rule the battlefield, annihilating all it can see, you
expect forces with lots of small observer units, as much force
dispersion as
is reasonable, a heavy focus on their own artillery and artillery
countermeasures, and fewer line troops and armour unless those are very
mobile. This could be a fine game two, but it sgould play out
and require organization inconsistent with older TO&Es.

High tech force in good supply vs. low tech force without civilian
entanglement or crippling ROE will result in a pounding for the low tech
force. Two high tech forces? Game of paper, scissors, superguns. Two low
tech forces - maybe a bit more like a skirmish or if more conventional,
a WW2 battle.

My 0.02, admittedly worth that or less.

Thomas B

"Now, I go to spread happiness to the rest of the station. It is a
responsibility but I have learned to live with it."
Londo, A Voice in the Wilderness, Part I

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like
administering medicine to the dead." -- Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

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