TDG 6: COIN is different than the ones preceding it in two ways:
- 1: We are planning at the operational level instead of the tactical
- 2: We are playing the role of a conventional military commander
Our task is to analyze what our enemy (the guerrillas) have been doing so far and find a way to either thwart their future attacks or destroy them entirely. There were a couple of creative answers to this TDG, with a few trends. Today we’ll do a brief summary of the trends in the answers, and wrap up with the learning objective of this week’s game.
- Reliance on SIGINT: Many readers leaned heavily on their signals intelligence assets to locate enemy activity. This is a potent tool and may indeed work. However, this can only get us so far, and a clever guerrilla force will only transmit during operations. We would get some early warning of attacks, and a careless enemy transmitting from their base camp (if they even have one) could net us the whole lot.
- Motorized Rifle Company QRF: Most solutions proposed the motorized rifle company as a quick reaction force (QRF) to respond to enemy attacks. This is an appropriate use of such a unit. However, this measure is reactive instead of proactive. If there is some way to use our infantry more aggressively to prevent future attacks instead of purely responding to them, that would be better.
- Brutality towards the populace: Many readers proposed a heavy-handed approach towards the populace, killing or detaining anyone even suspected of being or aiding the rebels. Historically, this approach gets some tactical-level gains but at the cost of strategic-level loss of support from the populace. Eventually we will want to pacify the region, but this becomes impossible if everyone in the county has had friends/family “disappeared” by us.
There were some different methods suggested, one of the more creative ones including using ANTIFA as bait to get the guerrillas to expose themselves. I always commend creativity in unit leaders. The specifics of these answers, however, is beyond what I sought to teach with this TDG, so unfortunately I won’t be able to cover them in depth.
The key to success in any form of conflict from chess to thermonuclear war is twofold:
- Predict what your opponent will do, and
- Make your own actions unpredictable
One way to predict what our opponent will do is to analyze their past activity and search for patterns. Patterns can be exploited. Let’s take a look at the map of enemy activity:
Judging from the locations of the convoy ambushes, the enemy seems to be more active North of our FOB. We may choose to concentrate our search to that area with foot patrols, since we do not have enough personnel (1 understrength company) to effectively monitor the entire county. Specifically, we may choose to patrol along our Main Supply Routes (MSRs) where the enemy likes to hit us.
The raided checkpoint in the SW appears to be an anomaly, or it may be the start of a new pattern. We should continue monitoring enemy activity to narrow our search area.
This is just one example of a pattern we can observe. Patterns are very exploitable and can come in many, many forms. By using pattern recognition to predict the enemy’s future actions, we can adapt to their tactics. Proactive is always better than reactive. We will further explore this concept with tomorrow’s TDG, which builds on the lessons learned from this one.