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The most straightforward way to defeat an enemy is to kill it to the last man, but that's the hardest and bloodiest way. Most battles are won in a more sophisticated way. This article presents the various mechanisms of defeat, with examples from World War 2 . While the principles of war answer "how to fight well ?" (the very short answer is "concentrate your effort, be active, and keep it simple") , this essay is about how to use your effort to defeat the enemy. It has three parts : 1. The parameters of defeat 2. The four mechanisms of defeat 3. Examples from World War 2

The parameters of defeat

Material defeat versus mental defeat
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A material defeat happens when the ability to fight is lost. A mental defeat happens when the will to fight is lost. Reduced ability affects the will to fight, and reduced will affects the ability to fight.

Decisive action versus Attrition Defeat can be by decisive action (quick), or by attrition (slow). It usually depends on the ability of the winner compared to that of the loser. Decisive action is meant to defeat the enemy in a relatively short period of maximum effort, which in itself contributes to defeating the enemy by rapid destruction, and by shocking some of its forces and neutralizing others. It's a good way to defeat a stronger enemy or to defeat the enemy with minimal losses, but sometimes it's simply not possible, depending on the situation. Attrition is meant to defeat the enemy by gradually eroding its resources (and/or morale) at a rate higher than its rate of recovery, and of course at the same time by not being eroded even faster at your side. A war of attrition is a slow and often very bloody business, but if decisive action is not possible it's the only way left. The best (and bloodiest) example of attrition is World War 1 where millions of lives where lost and the only benefit was that the enemy was running out of soldiers a bit faster. A blockade is a common way of attrition. It sometimes has the potential of being so successful in damaging the enemy that it might quickly become a decisive action that will suffocate the enemy's war potential and end the war.

Good examples of blockade are : The submarine war in the atlantic and the Pacific, and the bomber attacks against Germany's oil supply in World War 2. Great Britain could have been defeated by the German submarines if only there were enough of them in the early stage of the war. The American submarine warfare against Japanese shipping, which never adopted the convoy tactic, decimated Japan's supply of oil and other war material. The allied bomber attacks at Germany's only source of oil in Ploesti, Romania, and of its artificial oil industry which produced very expensive but usable oil from coal. The series of attacks caused such a severe shortage of oil for Germany's aircraft, tanks, and vehicles, that it practically stopped the formidable German military machine. A jet fighter with no fuel is totally useless, and a tank with no fuel is almost as useless, even in defense. Strong points versus weak points Defeat can be achieved either by attacking and defeating the enemy's strong points (which might save the need to also attack the rest of its force) or weak points (which saves the need to attack its strong points). Choosing the better of these two options depend on the situation, but the situation can be affected by first detecting or even creating a weak point, or by detecting a key strong point which is worthy of being attacked. The best known example of victory by defeating the enemy's strongest unit is when the small and almost unarmed David killed the giant and heavily armed and armored Goliath. The psychological result of killing the enemy's strongest soldier ended the battle before it really started and saved a lot of blood. Attacking the enemy's weaker points of all types (material, geographical, technical, psychological, etc.) is common and obvious. Detecting the enemy's weak points or detecting an enemy key strong point worthy of being attacked is one of the main goals of the various types of intelligence units, from plain combat observers to codebreakers and spies. The enemy is often generally aware of its weaknesses, and if knows early enough which one will be attacked it can often reinforce it and neutralize the attack. That's why surprise and deception are often so important in attack and even in defense, and why secrecy is so important in not letting the enemy gather information about your side, your weaknesses, and your intentions. Attacking multiple weak points at the same time can achieve a decisive result, but requires an initial advantage which can allow that. Attacking weak points one after the other might reveal additional weak points but is more likely to let the enemy prepare better for the next attack. The effect of scale

Small units in the tactical level are often easier to destroy and harder to paralyze than the greater and more complex military systems in the operational and strategic scale. In the national strategic level, many times war is eventually decided by psychological defeat of the enemy force or its leaders, but sometimes, like in the case of Germany and Japan in World War 2, the enemy and its leadership persists until its totally paralyzed and its forces almost totally destroyed.

The four mechanisms of defeat

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The ability to fight is defeated either by destruction or by paralysis. The will to fight is defeated either by loss of interest in the cause or by loss of faith in the ability to achieve it.

Destruction The basic purpose in combat is to destroy the enemy's forces by killing its soldiers and destroying its war equipment. Total destruction is rare. The percentage of the force that should be destroyed to make the enemy force disfunctional is very different, depending on morale, discipline, education, training, and the situation. While some units remained functional as a fighting unit after losing 90% of their personnel, others, even of the same military in the same war, quickly surrendered. Destruction is the situation when enough damage was inflicted to an enemy to make it disfunctional, regardless of whether it surrenders, escapes, dies, or becomes inactive as a military unit in some other way. If a commander chooses to defeat the enemy by destruction, he should determine the optimal time and place and position for the collision with the enemy force, and then succeed in achieving those parameters as much as possible. Such a success can sometimes achieve such a destruction of the enemy that it might bring the war to an end with a great victory. Paralysis Paralyzing an enemy force means denying it of the ability of action. The enemy force can be paralyzed either by shock or by neutralization. An enemy force is shocked by denying its ability of coordinated action. An enemy force is neutralized by making it irrelevant, useless. Quick examples : jamming radio communications or radars, or killing the commander, can shock an enemy force by disintegrating it into smaller uncoordinated elements. Bypassing a line of fortifications or attacking enemy fighter aircraft when they're on the ground neutralizes them, making them useless. Whether shocked or neutralized, a paralyzed enemy force is no longer effective, and can be either ignored or easily destroyed. The easiest way to paralyze the enemy is by preemptive action, acting against the enemy before it's ready to act. This is true both in attack (preemptive strike) and in defense (either preventive strike or defensive measures). Preemptive action might fail if the side that acts first is not really more ready to act than the enemy. A neutralizing bypass of an enemy force can be either geographical bypass or by functional bypass, and its intention is either to avoid fighting the enemy where it's stronger or to fight it where you're stronger. One of the most effective ways of bypass is deception which makes the enemy think it was bypassed and lose the battle by

responding to this deception. Shocking an enemy by disintegration can be achieved by geographical disintegration, splitting its units from each other, or by damaging its ability of effective command and control or even by taking or destroying a key unit, position, road, or other key element. Loss of interest Loss of interest occurs when the enemy believes that the cost of continued fighting, or even of going to war when it didn't start yet, is higher than the cost of the military or even political or economical alternative. The perception of cost varies from culture to culture and even varies with time in the same culture, so that what's intolerable at one time becomes tolerable at a later time. Psychological warfare can make the enemy think the cost is higher, or the benefits lower, than they really are, and push the enemy towards defeat by loss of interest. Offering the enemy a tempting alternative can also make it lose interest in a particular objective. Loss of faith A previous defeat, or a series of previous defeats erodes the soldiers' faith in their ability to win. Sometimes even what only seems like a defeat, even just initially, can cause a loss of faith. The loss of faith is often the element that determines the level of actual destruction required to make a unit disfunctional as if it was totally destroyed. That's why morale, and keeping it, is so important. In heavy fighting, loss of morale, the faith in the objective and the ability to achieve it, often determines which side will be the first to surrender or escape, making the other side the winner.

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Decisive action - the German Blitzkrieg attacks are World War 2's most obvious examples of decisive action, of rapidly defeating the enemy in a short period of highly concentrated maximum effort. Attrition - the strength and determination of the German and Japanese militaries, and the size of the territory they held, made the second part of World War 2 a long war of attrition. There was no way The Allies could defeat them in a single decisive campaign. Blockade - the submarine warfare and destruction of oil sources, as detailed above. Attacking weak points - Blitzkrieg tactic was to attack weak points and bypass strong points in order to keep momentum and inflict maximum damage in minimum time and losses. Attacking strong points - The Japanese objective in attacking Pearl Harbor was to start their series of conquests by first eliminating their strongest foe, the American Pacific fleet, that the only force capable of stopping them. Also, when he felt that his combined anti-submarine forces were finally ready, Admiral Max Horton ordered to change tactic in the atlantic, and instead of making every effort to avoid German submarine

Wolfpacks, he now made every effort to meet them, and sink them. The resulting losses of German submarines were such that their commander, Admiral Karl Doenitz, ordered all his submarines to return home until a new submarine tactic and measures will be developed. The U-boats were finally defeated. Detecting weak points by intelligence - one of the oldest of military arts. The example here is however most modern. German night bombers which attacked England in 1940 were very dependent on top secret electronic navigation devices based on radio beams. In one of the greatest known triumphs of scientific intelligence ever, R.V. Jones, the science officer of the Royal Air Force intelligence, was able to develop very thin clues into a precise analysis of the German system and a practical method to disrupt it without the German side noticing it for months. The German night bombers missed their targets, and Winston Churchill called Jones "The man who broke the beams". Following a series of similar and even greater intelligence achievements, the commander of the British fighter command said that Jones was "Worth 12 Spitfire squadrons". Detecting strong points worthy of attack by intelligence - a well known example is the assassination of Japan's most capable military leader, Admiral Yamamoto, by American P-38 fighter planes, which was a major blow to the Japanese military. It was made possible only by decoding a Japanese message which revealed the time and place of his planned visit to a Japanese base. With that information it was possible to send the longrange P-38s to intercept him. Surprise attack - Despite early indications and warnings, the German Blitzkrieg attack of Russia in June 22, 1941 was such a powerful shocking surprise that the Germans crushed the huge Russian military all the way to Moscow before the severe Russian winter and massive fresh reinforcements could stop them. The allied attack in Normandy at D-Day was also a huge surprise, despite a few hints, thanks to a major campaign of secrecy and deception. Surprise in defense - when the German tanks attacked the Russians in Kursk in July 1943, they had no idea that the Russians, who expected the attack, prepared for it by building many successive and dense lines of antitank defenses there. The German forces which attacked the Russian lines were decimated by those unexpected massive defenses and suffered very heavy losses. Deception in attack - the greatest deception in military history, both in effort and in the scale of its results, was the massive allied deception effort about the time and place of the invasion of France. The deception was so successful that even AFTER the invasion began the Germans believed its just a diversion and kept their main forces elsewhere, still expecting the main invasion. When they realized they were wrong it was much too late. Deception in defense - a clever British deception mislead the German intelligence about the results of their targeting of V-1 and V-2 missile attacks. The British intelligence used captured German agents to transmit

to Germany lists of the correct locations where the German missiles fell, but with mixed dates. The unsuspecing Germans compared those lists to their own log of missile attacks targeting data, and used the differences between the lists for aiming corrections. The cleverly misleading information made them increase their aiming error instead of reducing it, which saved so many British lives. This deception was also one of the great ideas of R.V. Jones. Camouflage and decoys are also well known examples of deception in defense. The importance of secrecy - is demonstrated in every step of every war. A good example is project Ultra, which was designed to use the information obtained by code breaking the German Enigma messages without letting the recipients of the information reveal the source of that information. It was obvious to the staff of project Ultra that if the Germans will realize that the Enigma was cracked by The Allies, that would be the end of that intelligence gold mine. Defeat by destruction - there are numerous examples. The sinking of the Japanese aircraft carriers at Midway, by US Navy dive bombers, terminated the Japanese domination in the Pacific. For Japan it was the major blow from which it never recovered, the beginning of the end. Defeat by shock - Before the D-Day invasion of France, allied air and sabotage activity against German units, installations, roads, and lines of communications in France was so devastating that it severely damaged all aspects of the German ability to counter the invasion. German units were largely isolated an stuck in their positions, capable only of static resistance, and much weaker than they were originally. Defeat by neutralization - when a static defense line of fortifications is being bypassed by the enemy, it is neutralized. Its purpose of existence is to stop the enemy, and if it can't achieve that it's useless. A good example is the French Maginot Line which took years and huge sums of money to build. It was the most advanced line of defense, but when the German tanks bypassed it across its left edge and penetrated deep into France in mid 1940, it became totally useless. Defeat by geographical disintegration - when the supply lines of a large military force are cut by the enemy, its daily consumption of food, fuel, ammunition, etc, is such that its ability to fight sharply decreases. The Germans, with their Blitzkrieg tactic, were able to destroy several large Russian forces this way. When the Russians started their large counter attack around Stalingrad in November 1942, they were able to let the Germans taste that too, when a huge German force was encircled, starved, decimated, and eventually forced to surrender. Defeat by command and control disintegration - in mid 1943, the British bomber command began to disperse chaff, clouds of small thin stripes of metal, as a method of electronic warfare against the German radars which guided German night fighters. It was a complete success. German ground controllers were confused about the location of the British

bombers. They were even misled about the location of their own night fighters. The German defense system was not damaged at all, but it was denied the ability of coordinated action. British bombers loss rate immediately dropped to half or third of the previous rate. Defeat by loss of key unit - the best example of course is of killing or assassinating commanders. Another good example, again, is the sinking of the Japanese aircraft carriers in the battle of Midway, together with their aircraft and with them most of Japan's highly trained and experienced naval aviators. The rest of Japan's powerful Navy, with all its battleships and submarines, was unharmed. But the loss of its key unit, the aircraft carriers and their air units, was a terrible blow from which it never recovered. Defeat by loss of key position - the importance of the higher ground. When Crete was invaded by German paratroopers in May 1941, the German paratroopers suffered very heavy losses. The invasion could have failed unless the Germans noticed that some hills near the Canea airport are poorly defended. They stormed and took the hills. Controlling this modest higher ground was enough to enable risky but successful landings of German reinforcements in the airport, which slowly let them stabilize their position, bring in more reinforcements, and eventually conquer Crete. Defeat by loss of key road - The surprising capture of the Remagen Bridge over the Rhein river gave the advancing American forces an easy crossing point into Germany. The only reason for this success (the bridge was full of explosives ready to detonate, and constantly manned by a German unit) was Adolf Hitler's warning that "Anyone who will explode the bridge too early will be executed". The result was that the German unit hesitated to blow the bridge until it was too late.. Defeat by loss of other key element - It is well known that their lack of readiness for the severe conditions of the Russian winter, despite all the years they had to get prepared for it, was a major factor in the German defeat in the battle for Moscow, and in the winter battles that followed. When the winter came the German military lost most of its fighting ability, and that's exactly when it was attacked by fully winter-capable fresh Russian units. Bypassing the enemy force - Many Japanese army units, fully willing to fight to the last man to stop the American advance in the Pacific, were surprised and confused as they realized that the Americans are not going to waste time and blood in fighting them. They were simply bypassed, left alone in the ocean or in South East Asia until the end of the war, because they were not on American's route to Japan. Preemptive action by preemptive strike - Hitler suspected that Norway, an important provider of war materials to Germany, was about to be occupied by Great Britain in order to deny those materials from him. In response he quickly sent his combined air, naval, and army forces to storm key Norwegian harbors with a total surprise. The British THEN sent

forces to Norway to try to counter the German invasion, but they failed, and Norway remained under German occupation until the end of the war. Preemptive action by preventive strike - preventive strike and preemptive strike are very similar terms. The reason I call the German attack on Norway a preemptive strike, is that it did not prevent the British attack on Norway (actually it caused it). But it did preempt it. Hitler struck first and got Norway. Preemptive action by defensive measures - the "Scorched earth" tactic of the Russians as they retreated from the Germans, denied the Germans very needed resources (food,fuel,shelter,winter wear) which forced them to bring everything they needed all the (very long) way from Germany. A particular example is the occupation of the Russian oil well centers in the Caucasus. The Germans fought a long way to get there, in order to ease their constant shortage of fuel, but when they finally occupied this oil rich region, they found out that the Russians systematically sabotaged each and every installation, making oil production impossible. A team of 50 oil experts which was brought there to study the possibility of restoring production was attacked and eliminated one night by Russian partisans. The entire German effort to take the Caucasus region in southern Russia for its many rich oil wells was eventually a huge waste of German manpower and equipment. Functional bypass - The initial successes of The Allies in using RADAR to capture German submarines as they surfaced at nights to use their diesel engines to recharge their batteries, were eliminated when the Germans invented the snorkel device which allowed their submarines to run the diesels while remaining submerged. The use of new radars then gave The Allies the upper hand again as the new radars were able to detect the tiny RADAR reflection from the snorkel and again detect those submarines and sink them, eliminating the advantage of using the snorkel. The Germans then installed RADAR detectors in their submarines, which gave their submarine captains an early warning of the presence of RADAR-equipped aircraft, giving them enough time to dive before being detected, making the use of RADAR much less effective. The Allies then installed new radars with higher frequencies that the German RADAR detectors could not detect. This denied the German captains of the essential early warning, and submarines were again sunk.

Bypass by deception - the well known trick of making the enemy look "there" while you move "here". The greatest example is again the invasion of Normandy. An unprecedented coordinated effort of deception convinced the Germans that the invasion will be in Calais, while it was in fact in Normandy.

Defeat by loss of interest due to psychological warfare - the dispersion of leaflets and the use of loudspeakers and radio broadcasts to directly address enemy soldiers and citizens and convince some of them that continued suffering and the risk of losing their lives for their leaders' goals is not worth it, is a very common method of psychological warfare which was practiced by both sides in World War 2 and is still being used today. Defeat by loss of interest due to intolerable high cost - In August 1945 most Japanese people were still willing to continue to sacrifice countless lives to defend Japan from an American invasion. The American use of the atomic bombs which instantly destroyed the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was however so horrible in its lethality that Emperor Hirohito, who knew that Japan was losing the war anyway, realized that continued fighting became equivalent to a futile mass suicide of the Japanese people, and ended the war. Defeat by loss of interest due to offering a tempting alternative Sweden and Switzerland, both neutral countries, were at great risk of being invaded and occupied by Hitler's forces, like Norway was. Both of them had strong defensive military forces, but these were not able to stop a German invasion, only to make the German military pay a high price in blood for it. To further deter Hitler from invading them, each of those neutral countries offered Hitler important economical and diplomatic benefits for respecting their neutrality and leaving them in peace. Hitler preferred the benefits instead of a costly occupation and kept good relations with those two countries until the end of the war. Defeat by loss of faith due to psychological warfare - this version of psychological warfare is used mainly against an enemy force in disadvantage, of when it's close to defeat anyway, because then it's easier to convince the enemy soldiers that not only it's not worth dying for their country, but also that it's going to be in vain because of they are losing the battle or the war anyway. This form of psychological warfare obviously has less effect on the outcome of the war, but it's also more effective. Its purpose is to save lives by preventing unnecessary fighting. Defeat by loss of faith due to previous defeat - On December 10, 1941, the brand new British battleship HMS Prince Of Wales, which sailed from Singapore, and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse, were sunk by Japanese bombers. The ease of destroying the mighty ships was the last devastating blow in a series of blows to the morale of British defenders in Singapore. The Japanese tremendous successes in Pearl Harbor and all over South East Asia seemed almost unnatural. Several weeks later, when Singapore itself was attacked, and when the attack came from an unexpected direction, the eroded morale of the British defenders greatly helped the Japanese commander. Singapore surrendered. Defeat by loss of faith due to major previous failure - when time after time your strongest weapon does not damage the enemy, doesn't even seem to bother it, and this enemy continues to effectively fight you with its lethal weapons, it must be a very bad experience that in addition to

destroying your faith in your weapons, is likely to also erode your faith in the fighting in general. This experience was shared by those who first encountered the heavily armored German Tiger tank, as well as by American submariners who were equipped with faulty torpedoes in the beginning of the war in the Pacific.

Principles of the Defense

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The defense is generally considered weaker and less decisive than the offensive form of combat. This is because defense is, by its very nature, overall reactive rather than proactive. However the defender has some natural advantages over the attacker:
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The defender may be able to chose the time of the attack by skillful withdrawal and movement. The defender may be able to chose the place of the attack by where he chooses to defend. The defender can employ fortifications and obstacles as well as favorable terrain features to act as combat multipliers. The defender is the winner by default at the start of most scenarios. That is, the defender controls the victory conditions and if the attacker were to do nothing (or nothing effective), the defender would win.

Forms of the Defense

Defense doctrine describes two general forms of defense at the tactical level:

Area Defense: In this form you rely upon strong, stationary battle positions or strong points with interlocking fires and obstacles. The attacker is worn down as he has to assault each position in succession or wastes time bypassing them. This is best if you have little depth and must hold terrain. Most of your units will be in the defensive positions with few in reserve. The advantage of this is that it can be a tough nut to crack. While you will lose some positions, hopefully the attacker will be so attrited and have used up so much time that he will not be able to win. While this may be true, it is important to remember that hope is not a course of action. You must plan this carefully to insure that the attacker will be attrited enough to lose. Estimate how strong his force could be and how much strength and time it will take to defeat your defense. The disadvantages of this form are that if the attacker penetrates through he can bypass the remaining stationary forces and there is little to stop him, additionally this is a very passive way to fight. You just sit there and let the attacker try to reduce your positions one at a time. Mobile Defense: In this form you rely upon light, mobile security forces and some obstacles (if time permits) to disrupt the attackers advance, cause him to deploy then withdraw. Once he is slowed and disrupted, you launch a counterattack with the majority of your forces. The advantage of this form is that you choose when and where to seize the initiative when you launch the counterattack. Once your counterattack defeats the attacker's main body, you can switch to the offense and continue on to totally wipe out your opponent. The disadvantage of

this is that is relies upon one decisive defeat mechanism. While seizing the initiative and fighting decisively are good things, putting all your eggs in one basket may not be.

Which ever form or combination of forms is chosen the defender must plan for a defeat mechanism to overcome the natural advantages of the attacker.
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The defeat mechanism of the area defense is attrition of the attacker. The defeat mechanism of the mobile defense is a decisive counter attack.

Which defeat mechanism you choose depends upon the METT-T factors discussed below. Both of these forms of defense employ a security zone and a main defense zone. These are explained below. Either form may employ a spoiling attack. This is an attack launched out of a defensive position to threaten the attacker so that he can not ignore it, that he must deal with it and thus diverts his attention and resources from his main attack. The spoiling attack may actually be intended to destroy opposing units or just to cause your opponent to waste time reacting only to find the spoiling attack units have withdrawn without actually fighting much or any. The form of defense used is largely determined by the METT-T factors, detailed below, and the need to attempt to gain the initiative early. Further, defenses may be described as deliberate or hasty depending upon the time, effort and resources available:

Hasty Defense: Typically a hasty defense is used to provide TEMPOARY PROTECTION to a force while it pauses for a short time before attacking. A force that is attacking or moving may determine that conditions are not favorable for continuing. The enemy may be too strong, the terrain or weather may be unfavorable, other friendly forces may not be able to keep up, etc. In this case you start to: o position your forces to take advantage of the terrain, finding favorable firing positions for your units with interlocking fires o having multiple positions that a unit can move to provides for security through deception as your opponent does not know if you now have one unit in two positions or two units. o provide for security by assessing avenues of approach likely to be used by your opponent and placing them under observation and fire o determining good lateral (side-ways) movement routes in your rear to shift forces to heavily attacked sectors from less heavily attacked sectors o determine good positions for reserves (either one main reserve or several smaller ones positioned near the likely avenues of approach) o start to lay obstacles (in SP:WaW the only thing you can do during a game is to drop bridges and have engineers lay mines) Deliberate Defense: Typically a deliberate defense is used when you know that you can not defeat your opponent in an attack but you still want to decisively engage and destroy him. A

deliberate defense has all the things that a hasty one does, except more of every thing. In fact a defense may start out as a hasty one then slowly and eventually become a deliberate one. o A deeper security element conducts a counter-reconnaissance battle to protect your main body and provide for security. o Further fortifications and obstacles are constructed, often in layers or belts providing for defense in depth.

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Basics of the Defense

We must assume that the attacker has more strength than you. If not, you could defeat him by attacking. Your defense is dependent upon all of your units being synchronized and supporting each other and taking advantage of combat multipliers. If the attacker can concentrate an attack on part of your defense and prevent the rest of your defense from supporting the attacked part, he will win. Similarly, the attacker will strive to synchronize his units, to use them in a manner that they support each other and constantly are attacking without pauses that would allow you to recover and react. If you can de-synchronize attacking units, if you can separate them in time or space, you can defeat them in detail and win. Your defense plan should then allow for:
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A cohesive, interlocking, mutually supporting defense A means to break apart attacking units to allow you to recover and react.

You may elect to defend well forward with strong covering forces by striking the enemy in the security zone, or instead opt to fight the decisive battle well forward within the main battle zone. If you do not have to hold a specified area or position, you may draw your opponent deep into your defenses and then strike his flanks and rear. You may even choose to preempt the enemy with spoiling attacks if conditions favor such tactics. The defense, no less than the offense, should achieve surprise. Deception and counterreconnaissance are the primary means to do this. You may consider defending not on the best hilltops, as they may be preemptively targeted for indirect fires, but on less good but still adequate ground. Back to the top

Planning the Defense

It is a truism that, "He who would defend everywhere defends nowhere." If you had the strength to position enough units on all avenues of approach to defeat your opponent on each of them, you would have several times his strength and would not be defending! You must prioritize. Determine the most probable and most dangerous avenues of approach. Place security on all avenues. Place the bulk of your forces to defeat your opponent on the most probable one, position reserves to support a defense on the most probable and the most dangerous.

The foundation of a defensive plan is locating, containing, and defeating the attacker's main and supporting efforts. Use every resource available to offset the attacker's numerical advantage, to identify dangerous threats, and to mass combat power against the vulnerabilities of the attacking force. In particular, anticipate the use of indirect approaches and the ability to project combat power into your rear area by long-range fires, infiltration, air drop, air strikes, etc. Back to the top

Defensive positions
A position that the enemy can readily avoid has little defensive value (it may serve to delay your opponent) unless the enemy can be induced to attack it. Interlocking:
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Positions must be interlocking, that is units from multiple positions (at least two positions and ideally more) should be able to fire on the same attacker. In this manner if the attacker orients on one position, facing it, defenders from other positions can achieve flank shots. Additionally, if one position falls this will not cause a breach in the defense as fires from other positions can cover where the lost position was firing to.

Reverse slope:

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In this technique, you position your units so that they are on the slope behind a hill. They are in a blind spot for attacking units advancing and can not be seen or attacked until they are on top of the reverse slope position. Thus the attacker can not employ long range fires. He can not stand off an shoot up the position (with direct or indirect fires) but instead must get within a short range (at least close enough for infantry AT weapons such as rifle grenades, AT guns and AT rocket launchers but ideally adjacent where close assaults can be used) where his units are suddenly and unexpectedly attacked by multiple defending units with increased penetration power and accuracy due to the short range. As a variation, the defender can hide behind anything conveniently at hand, buildings, trees, in gullies, behind hexes on fire, etc. Since this technique relies upon a sudden attack, surprise is important. This can be achieved by placing security units to the flanks to prevent the attacker from coming wide around the hill (or whatever you are hiding behind) out of the short range needed to be effective. A disadvantage of this technique is that you are letting the attacker get right up on your units. If you fail to destroy or heavily suppress attacking units, you may be pinned in place, decisively engaged and defeated in detail. This technique can be reinforced by having units a short ways back (ideally on the forward slope of the next hill to the rear) but also hidden by the hill (or whatever you are hiding behind). These units can act as an overwatch force. They can also engage attacking units coming over the hill but are far enough away to not be pinned down. They can provide covering fire to allow the reverse slope element to withdraw. Additionally, if the attacker comes around the hill, this element can complement the reverse slope element, catching the attacker in a cross fire between these two interlocking positions.

This was the preferred technique for German defense in WWII.

Forward slope:
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This is the opposite of a reverse slope. You sit on a hill top and blast away with long range fires as your opponent advances over open ground towards you. This works best when you have a gunnery advantage over your opponent. This is vulnerable to being blinded by smoke and suppressed by indirect fire.

All around protection: Your opponent may pop up in an unexpected direction. He may penetrate your defense and attack positions from the rear, flank you, infiltrate units, etc. Your positions should be prepared to face an attack from any direction or have a safe (e.g. enemy does not have a LOS onto it) route to withdraw. Placing security all around the edge of you defensive areas and even in their depth can provide you with the time you need to reorient a defensive position. Fortifications: see the section on fortifications. Obstacles: see the section on obstacles. Refer to the SP:WaW manual, New Terrain Types, page 41 and Terrain Effects on Movement and Combat, page 67 for further details of terrain types suitable to the defense. In particular, infantry in rough terrain are almost impossible to dislodge with vehicles, infantry (or in a pinch, dismounted vehicle crews) is required and can readily do so .

Vehicles can be hull down in rough or stone building hexes, while in cover or higher than the firing unit and while in entrenchments and receiving fire from the front. Refer to the SP:WaW manual, page 66 for details. Back to the top

Security Zone
A security zone is an area where you station units to conduct reconnaissance and combat on advancing, opposing units.

Reconnaissance is heavily addressed elsewhere in this guide. The purpose of reconnaissance in the defense is to allow you shift your units to adjust from their pre-scenario setup (that anticipated an attacker's actions) to more favorable ones (based on the attacker's actual actions). Be aware of shifting too readily as you may be subject to deception operations. Attack opposing units to: o prevent them from advancing unsuppressed and organized to attack you main force. This reduces there ability to defeat your main effort (your defeat mechanism) o prevent them from gaining accurate information on your defense disposition. See the counter-reconnaissance battle section. Avoid allowing your security zone units from being decisively engaged and defeated in detail.

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Main Battle Zone

The main defense zone is where you intend to employ your defeat mechanism to defeat the attacker. It should be as deep as possible to allow for maneuver by defending units. It must defend against all possible avenues of approach in a prioritized manner. NOTE: . See the Section on German and Soviet Doctrine. for full details on frontages and depths. A unit defending would have a security zone established by an element two levels down. That is a defending regiment would have a depth of 1500 - 2500 m (25 - 45 hexes) . Its security zone would be manned by companies and less than 1/3 of this depth or about 10 hexes. Given the limited depth of many SP:WaW maps, especially the random maps created by the campaign generator, a historically correct depth may not be possible for these zones. However the principle of security in front of the main battle area still can be achieved even if all this entails is a picket line of snipers and recon teams as far forward as possible. Back to the top

Characteristics of Good Defensive Plans

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They anticipate and confirm (by reconnaissance) the attacker's actions and include a means to de-synchronize his forces. They provide for maximum potential for taking the initiative. They anticipate not only the attacker's most probable actions but also his most dangerous ones.

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The first consideration in planning the defense is the mission. It defines the parameters of the defense to defeat. That is what do you really have to achieve to win? Can you afford to allow some objective hexes to fall to your opponent after a delaying action that leaves him without time to take enough to win? An area defense is indicated when defending in shallow sectors or positions. These reduce flexibility and require fighting well forward. Additionally narrow frontages and deep sectors probably don't have the space needed to launch a counterattack. A mobile defense is indicated by defending on broad frontages where there are not enough forces to provide an interlocking set of defensive positions. This also forces you to take risks and accept gaps. Back to the top

Consider your opponent's, equipment, intent, and probable courses of action (most likely and most dangerous) in planning the defense. If you are playing a historical scenario, doctrine may play a part in how the scenario designer has set the startup hexes and waypoints or reaction hexes to mimic a historical situation. When playing a human opponent recent or past tendencies MAY be indicators of future performance. However, like the stock market, past performance is not guarantee of future results. You should respect opposing capabilities but are not paralyzed by them. View yourself and your area through your opponent's eyes and anticipate whether he will orient on seizure of terrain or destruction of forces. Analyze the opposing mission and determine the critical points in time and space for enemy and friendly vulnerabilities during the battle by answering a series of questions:
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Where and when is the enemy most vulnerable? When, where, and how can the defender exploit those vulnerabilities? What are the specific conditions that trigger the exploitation of those vulnerabilities? What is the worst thing the attacker can do to the defending force?

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Terrain is the largest combat multiplier you have. Use it wisely. The defender must decide where he can best kill the enemy and plan accordingly. A study of the terrain that the attacker must traverse to conduct his attack gives valuable information. This study indicates the probable positions of jump off points, artillery locations, ground favoring armored and mechanized attack, and an area most advantageous for the main attack. The characteristics of the terrain will exercise the most decisive influence on the positioning of the defense. The defending force exploits any aspect of terrain that impairs enemy momentum or makes it difficult for the enemy to achieve mass or conduct maneuver. A significant obstacle to the front, such as a river, built-up area, swamp, or cliff, favors an area defense. Such an obstacle adds to the relative combat power of the defender. Open terrain or a wide sector favors a mobile defense that orients on the enemy. The primary function of committed units in a mobile defense is to control the enemy penetration pending a counterattack by a large reserve. Obstacles support static elements of the defense and slow or canalize the enemy in vital areas. Defenders engage the attacker at points where the terrain puts him at the greatest disadvantage. Defenders use man-made obstacles to improve the natural impediments, to slow or canalize their opponent's movement, and to protect friendly positions and maneuver. Some terrain may be so significant to the defense that its loss would prove decisive. When terrain is a critical factor in a defense, commanders make it a focal point of their plan. This may be the case for strategic and control victory hexes. These are explained on page 28 of the SP:WaW manual. Weather and visibility also affect how you use the terrain. In periods of limited visibility (by either weather, smoke or time of day), consider the impact on weapons systems and spotting. A defensive plan that succeeds in clear conditions may be less effective with shorter visibilities. Back to the top

Consider the composition of your force, specifically national characteristics, state of training, and experience of leaders when you assign missions. The mobility, protection, morale, and training of troops determine to some extent how they defend. Differences in mobility, training, and leadership make some units more suitable for some missions than for others.

Amongst all your units of the same type, some will have higher experience, and thus better abilities, than others and this should be taken into account. If you will be using a forward element to snipe at your opponent at long range to disrupt him, then withdraw it, would you place your best or worst units forward? o Units with low experience may not be able to hit anything with the few shots available before withdrawing. This suggests using more experienced units for long range fires, then when your opponent is at a closer range, less experienced units can fire.

Less experienced units could be used to draw off opportunity shots allowing your better units to fire without receiving fire or suppression. Among units of different types, should your use your heavier/more survivable units for direct fire and lighter/less survivable units for opportunity fire or the opposite? Since there is no opportunity fire by the moving side against non-moving side units employing opportunity fire themselves, its safer for the lighter/less survivable units to use opportunity fire and the heavier ones to engage in longer sequences of direct fire, building up higher "to hit %s" while being more survivable against opportunity fire..

The defender should exploit relative strengths such as national characteristics (see page 39 in the SP:WaW manual) skill in night combat, infiltration, long-range fires, or anything that gives the defender an advantage over the attacker. Back to the top

Knowing the absolutely fixed time available in a scenario is a strong advantage in the game that real live commanders never enjoy. This can aid either side however. Each side can estimate the rate of advance being achieved and decide if this is adequate to achieve their mission, if they need to speed things up or if they can afford to slow down. Generally there is a trade off between time and casualties. The faster you advance, the more exposed you are and the more casualties you take. The defender can exploit this. If you can slow the attacker early on, he may need to advance faster, taking more risks later. Techniques to slow an attacker are;
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Conduct a spoiling attack Delay Suppress with artillery

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Either you will conduct a deliberate defense ( & prepare for the defense before the scenario starts, in which case you can take your time siting units, building obstacles, etc.) or you will conduct a hasty defense in which case you will not be able to do much of this.

Deliberate Defense: o Since you have all the time in the world, don't rush your preparation. o Check and double check LOS to/from your units. Not all high and low ground is readily marked on the map. There are many small variations that cause dead space (that is where a LOS is cut off) because the hexes are really a depression or a slight rise blocks LOS behind it. These occur where no obvious hills or gullies are present. It would be really embarrassing to find that your defensive position can not see advancing attacking units moving up behind a small rise. If the game situation allows, save a copy before deploying your forces then move units to your opponent's side and check LOS from his

side of the set up line. Consider LOS for your original positions and also for subsequent, fall back positions. Do not forget that smoke/fires may interfere with what seems a great LOS. Hasty Defense: There are really only two things you can do to improve your defensive positions once the battle has started. o If your units remain in position long enough (generally two or three turns) they gain benefits from becoming in cover. See page 81 of the SP:WaW manual. o Leg engineers may lay mines during the battle. This can be toggled on and off. It is not necessary to purchase mines before the start of the battle for them to do this. The mines that they lay during the game can be thought of as coming from their basic load of ammunition. See page 82 of the SP:WaW manual.

Reserve and counterattack forces: Reserves by definition are uncommitted forces. Reserve forces are not uncommitted if your concept of defense depends upon their employment as a counterattack force to strike a decisive blow. Counterattacking, blocking, reinforcing defending units, or reacting to rear area threats are all actions a reserve may be required to perform. Entrenchments are a big defensive advantage however they are only located where one of your units is at the start of a battle. Consider positioning prime movers or reserve units where entrenchments would be useful for front line units to displace to. This could be in a rearward secondary delaying position or to the flank facing in an alternate direction and covering another opponent avenue of advance. Once the battle starts, the prime movers/reserves/etc. can get out of they way, moving to where they really need to be but leaving an entrenchment behind. In planning a counterattack, carefully consider the enemy's options and the likely locations of his follow-on units, then decide where to position reserves, what routes of approach to use, what fire support is necessary, and what interdiction or deep attack (paratroop drop, SpecOps/Partisan infiltration, etc.) will isolate the enemy's forces. Counterattacks seek to avoid enemy strengths. Counterattacks seize positions from which to fire on the enemy's flanks and rear. When rear area security forces are insufficient, reserves must be able to move to their objectives by multiple routes to avoid being blocked by small infiltrating or penetrating units. These should be bypassed and not be allowed to decisively fix your reserves in place. Back to the top


Your initial tasks in the defense are (in roughly priority order):
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Blind his reconnaissance elements in a counter-reconnaissance fight. Locate his routes of advance and consider what objective these might lead to. Determine his main effort (assuming he has one) or at least his most dangerous effort Locate any units that are particularly dangerous to you (e.g. heavy tanks, obstacle clearing units if you are employing them, etc.)

Security forces, intelligence units, infiltrating SpecOps/partisans, and air elements conducting deep operations may be a good first sources of this information. As you begin to build a picture of your opponent's attack plan, consider how it differs from what you prepared for. You may need to reposition units however, moving them may expose them to being spotted and lose any entrenchment or in cover advantage that they have. During the battle, keep track of enemy units to know how many more remain as a prerequisite to exploiting opportunities. Before the battle started, you should know how about many points your opponent has. Keeping track of his units and their costs is an excellent source of intelligence as to his remaining strength and will help you avoid being deceived as to where his main effort is. Forces conduct the defense aggressively. Continuously seek opportunities to take advantage of the enemy's errors or failures. Generally the objective of the defense is to gain and maintain the initiative rapidly. However in some scenarios it may be sufficient to just kill large numbers of opposing units so that, while you may not actually have the initiative to attack, neither does you opponent have the initiative or strength to defeat you. The integrity of the defense depends on maneuver and counterattack, as well as on the successful defense of key positions. That is, if you just sit there your opponent will take you apart bit by bit. You have to give him more than a sitting duck target. Don't give your opponent anything for free unless you are baiting him with a deception or your determine that your defense if over stretched and you need to consolidate. He who would defend everywhere ends up defending nowhere is an old but true statement. One defensive tactic is to cause attacking formations to become separated and unable to support one another. You can plan for this by strongly defending in one area while allowing your opponent to advance in another. This may leave a flank open for either force that you can exploit by conducting a limited flank attack against. This does risk opening your flank to the same thing, however since you are causing this, you should be able to act to spring your flank attack before your opponent realizes the possibility of doing the same. In an area defense, reserves counterattack in cooperation with static elements of their defense's battle positions and strong-points to break the enemy's momentum and reduce his numerical advantage. With mobile defenses your opponent will penetrate into your area so use obstacles and defended positions to shape and control such penetrations. Also use local counterattacks either to influence the enemy into entering the planned penetration area or to deceive him as to the nature of the defense. As in area defenses, static elements of a mobile defense contain the enemy in a designated area. In a mobile defense, the counterattack is strong, well-timed, and well-supported. Preferably, counter-attacking forces strike against the enemy's flanks and rear rather than the front of his forces. When conditions favoring counterattack occur, the main effort shifts to the reserve, which then strikes with overwhelming combat power. During the defense you may have to shift the main effort to contain the enemy's attack until you can take the initiative yourself. This requires the repeated commitment and reconstitution of

reserves, and modification of the original plan. To deny movement through a vital area, you may have to have a force in a strong position on key terrain remain there. If you do not have an adequate counterattack force, this entails a high risk of entrapment. You will have to decide if the loss of these units (& their experience) is worth the value to the defense. Reserves preserve flexibility in the defense. They provide the source of combat power that can be committed at the decisive moment. You may use reserves to counterattack the enemy's main effort to expedite his defeat, or they may elect to exploit enemy vulnerabilities, such as exposed flanks or support units and unprotected forces in depth. Reserves also provide a hedge against uncertainty. Reserves may reinforce forward defensive operations, block penetrating enemy forces, conduct counterattacks, or react to a rear area threat. Timing is critical to counterattacks. Really knowing when to do this is probably one of the hardest things to get right in a defense. Because you have to have reserves at the right place an time to counterattack, you must anticipate the circumstances that require committing the reserves before they occur. Committed too soon, reserves may not have the desired effect or may not be available later for a more dangerous contingency. Committed too late, they may be ineffective. Once commanders commit their reserves, they should immediately begin regenerating another reserve from uncommitted forces or from forces in less threatened sectors. During battle, protection of rear areas is necessary to ensure the defender's freedom of maneuver and continuity of operations. Because fighting in the rear area can divert combat power from the main effort up front, carefully weigh the need for such diversions against the possible consequences and prepare to take calculated risks in rear areas. Commanders protect their forces at all times. They achieve the effects of protection through skillful combinations of offense and defense, maneuver and firepower, and active and passive measures. As they conduct operations, they receive protective benefits as they disrupt the attacker's tempo and blind the enemy reconnaissance efforts. Back to the top


Assuming that you are not terminating the defense because you lost (remember the F9 key is the surrender key) you may want to transition to the attack. In some situations, all that may be needed to be successful (gain a decisive win) is to defeat the attacker and no transition to the attack may be necessary. However, if the attacker has taken (or started with) some victory hexes or if you desire to gain additional experience by hunting down and destroying your opponents units, you may switch from the defense to the attack. If you conducted a counterattack, you may be able to continue its attack to move from counterattacking (that is to take back your terrain) to attacking (that is to gain something you did not start with).

You need to be aware that attacking is more complex than counter attacking:
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In attacking you must create a reconnaissance force and find out the unknown whereas your opponent revealed himself to you while he was attacking and moving. While defending, your units should be positioned to provide mutual supporting fire on avenues of approach to your defensive positions. You may not have mobile forces in position to provide overwatch as you move forward. Etc., etc. Read the section on the offense for all the gory details.

You need to consider the benefit to be gained by attacking verses the loss you could take, moving forward into a smoky battlefield, possibly losing units to close assaults and ambushes by opposing units hiding there. Back to the top
Player Tips:

Editor's Note: Brian's description is very enlightening. His description of both the Maginot line and crumple zone defenses are technically variations on the area defense since neither relies upon a mobile, counterattack force to be the defeat mechanism. In his description he did launch a counterattack but by then the AIP was already defeated. If the defensive positions had been weaker and had not defeated the AIP and if he had needed the counter attack force to win, this could have been considered a mobile defense. Sometimes you just defeat the enemy in a mobile defense without having to use the counter attack force. Brian Price Matrix Recruit Member # 4461 posted October 07, 2001 05:49 AM I'm no expert at SP:WAW by a long shot, but I've been trying out various approaches against both the AI and human opponents and thought I'd share this one. Designing a defense is a lot like designing a safe automobile. There are two basic approaches the Maginot line/2 ton mid 60's Chrysler approach - and the modern crumple zone approach. While the Maginot line of deep minefield belts can work against the AI sometimes, it generally fails miserably against a human opponent. The fatal flaw of a rigid fixed defense is that once it is broken anywhere the entire structure fails. Even a five hex deep edge to edge belt of mines can be broken in ten to twelve turns - combinations of edge to edge mine belts and fortifications aren't much, if any, harder for a human player to break through. The crumple zone defense, on the other hand, is designed to fail safely. That is, a failure at a single point does not cause the entire structure to collapse. Correctly designed, a crumple zone defense has built in avenues for counter attack and is a deep zone of ambushes, cross fires, and impediments to movement of hostile forces. In a battle I just finished versus the AI (all realism options on including C&C) using the hard battle option for US Army defend vs. Japanese assault Jan '42, I lost 46 men and 6 halftracks vs.

over 1,400 Japanese casualties. Very few of the casualties were due to minefields as the defense I employed only relied on a relatively few small minefields to break up the attacking force at certain points. Given a fairly open mountainous region to defend with visibility 7, I decided to use a few machine gun nests and command posts on the hills just forward of the major centralized victory hexes. Placed with overlapping fields of fire and good kill zone depth, their purpose was not to form the first line of defense, nor the last, but instead to provide cover fire for forward deployed and retreating formations, and overwatch for counter attack routes. The flanks of these fortifications where covered by slightly forward deployed (lazy W style) infantry platoons, while a platoon of light tanks was deployed in front of them. (I used two groups of three machine gun nests, each had a dismounted mechanized infantry platoon on each flank and a light tank platoon deployed forward in favorable positions. The halftracks for each infantry formation were deployed slightly to the rear of the infantry positions but still capable of providing cover fire. The command posts were placed such that as many possible associated 0 units and machine gun nests fell within the 6 hex influence distance.) At the extreme range of vision from the machine gun nests I placed a line of barbed wire except for a portion to the south where a stream provided the same desired mobility barrier. I placed a few lookout posts about 7 hexes or so beyond the barbed wire with scout cars nearby for quick escape. About six hexes forward of the main defenses I located two likely places for deploying reverse slope screening forces. These screening forces would be the 'bumper' of the crumple zone defense. Normally I avoid deploying units in stacks due to their vulnerability, but in this case two key points made such a deployment advisable: first, I didn't want to leave anymore fortified hexes than absolutely necessary since I would be abandoning those positions very early on to the enemy; and second, I wanted to mass as much firepower as possible upon a few likely hexes where the enemy would approach. On the top of the two ridges in front of the screening forces, I placed a very small minefield. Basically I mined the three hexes immediately in front of the forward screening elements using 30 mines per hex. The desired result would be to have the lead enemy elements hit the minefield, be stopped, take casualties, and then be annihilated by the entrenched massed firepower of the screening forces. I placed about three or four other small minefields each two hexes deep with 20 mines per hex but only a few hexes wide. These would serve the purpose of breaking up the enemy force into a number of smaller groups instead of one huge one. I held one platoon of light tanks and a section of armored cars in reserve back in the rear area where they could protect the artillery against any infiltration forces or stray units that slipped by the main defenses. Together with the retreated and regrouped screening platoons, this would form my counter attack element.

In operation the design worked quite well, between the screening forces and the minefields, the first attack wave was broken up with a loss of only one man. I let the screening forces sit in place one additional turn after first contact as I knew the Japanese artillery would not be responding that quickly and was gambling that the light mortar squads would not as yet be into position. While the enemy wasted ammo on the abandoned screening force fortifications (and in the process lost a 75mm battery to US 155mm counter battery fire), the screening forces grudgingly gave ground at the rate of a hex or two per turn all the while making the enemy pay dearly for each hex gained. Once the lead elements of the enemy entered range of the flanking elements and the forward deployed tanks, the first two waves were quickly annihilated. All was not rosy however, I left the engaged flanking elements in place a turn or two too long and they began taking losses from artillery fire. A quick foray of mechanized recon elements together with close support artillery fire managed to take the heat off of the suppressed units long enough for them to retreat. (Barely, it was a close thing.) With two platoons in full retreat, the two screening platoons nearly behind the fortifications, and both platoons of light tanks taking both heavy infantry and heavy artillery fire, I began maneuvering my reserve intending for a south east to north west counterattack across the front. However the defense had performed better than I realized and before the counter attack could begin the battle was over with Japanese morale broken by the horrendous casualties. I expect a human opponent would've performed much better, but even in that case I would've used the same defense design and plans at least initially. While I'm sure I could've constructed a Maginot line to handle a normal sized AI assault and simply set back and hit the end turn button continually, this way was much more fun.