Tank Command 101 : How To Overcome Infantry Missile Teams

Tank Command 101: How To Overcome Infantry Missile Teams

Tank Command 101: How To Overcome Infantry Missile Teams
with Gary Wait

Comrades, welcome to the Tank Battalion Commanders course here at the Frunze Military Academy.

Let me start by congratulating you on taking the first step towards your Marshal’s epaulettes and learning to get the most out of the armoured beasts that the Motherland has seen fit to entrust you with.

I have heard some of you muttering prior to this class and I have heard some of you have been to Afghanistan where you had to contend with the rebels. In each case, you have heard rumours that so called wonder missiles will spell the end of our tank’s supremacy.

 NONSENSE, I say to this and all other rumours.

Yes, our proud Soviet Russia pioneered the development of such missiles with the initial successes of the Malyutka missile in 1973. Didn’t that give our Israeli friends a surprise ?  

However, much has changed and much, to the detriment of such missiles, remains the same. Does this mean our Mother Russia should not invest in our technologically marvellous tanks ?  

Again I say, Nonsense.

Let me start by explaining how our comrades have evaluated solution to the so called threat of the Milan spam-ski. I believe this is what some of our lesser enlightened followers have fearfully named this children’s story.

Within the existing framework of your exceptional Military education, based on the learned scholars of STAVKA and their input into how to win at the art of war, here is my recommendations to you. Firstly, the true Soviet commander knows that the capitalist warmonger weapons sellers seek to undermine their will to win first of all.


Tank Command 101: How To Overcome Infantry Missile Teams

A true Soviet will not deviate from a careful plan. As all in this room know, you should start with a definite plan that takes into account. As always think carefully about what mission you are being asked to undertake Are you being asked to conduct a Hasty Attack or a Breakthrough? Will you be punishing the Capitalist West who are conducting a Rearguard or a Bridgehead mission ?

Consider carefully, no matter what the mission, that you can only be successful if you achieve the objectives you have been assigned. Many a young commander has foolishly focussed on the destruction of the enemy. WRONG. Battles are won by achieving the victory conditions you have been given. Once you hold an objective, the enemy has lost. War, gentlemen, is really this simple. You have been given tanks for their mobility and protection while infantry are for their fighting power and determined ability. Each has a role to play.

Work with your recon specialists, let them dash forward to find the best and safest routes forward. I still cannot believe seeing commanders on a Red Banner exercise who had chosen to work with only one unit of Scouts. Such specialists are vital to getting your troops in the best possible place to exert a Spearhead of pressure on the enemy. Time is against us and you need to be able to start your journey to the English Channel as far west as is possible. Make sure your spearhead is effective and a good jumping off point to commence your successful mission.

Tank Command 101: How To Overcome Infantry Missile Teams

Think of where the enemy will position their strengths – common choke points, hills overlooking fire lanes, edges of vegetation or forest, built up areas. Put yourself in the shoes of your opponent. Once you have in mind what they will do for deploying their defenders, consider how you will avoid the areas of greatest resistance.

Comrades, this isn’t cowardly, this is prudent use of the force Remember to achieve a breakthrough, you need to outthink your opponent. Plan to surprise them, use the tanks mobility as much as it’s protection.

Tank Command 101: How To Overcome Infantry Missile Teams

I see far too many new commanders thinking their tank has only one speed in the gearbox – tactical so they can fire their impressive main gun. That is all well and good, but comrades, you are on a time table. Sometimes you need to learn to open the throttle and move quickly, if the concealment allows this. The enemy will not expect a rapid move. Surprise them and think ahead. You should be aiming to be on their flanks where they least expect it.

When you come to difficult terrain, use the “Cross Here” instructions. Your troops will be more effective for this guidance from your experienced eye for terrain.

 Even more importantly, use the “Follow Me” order with your command vehicle. This means you will use your skill to guide your troops by leading them in a fast push into the enemy position. We all know that doctrine says you should stop 20cm/8” from enemy while dashing. This is fine, but think ahead, Commander. Think to the future and give your troops Follow Me Orders after their dashing so that you can move closer than doctrine would allow from the dash. Better still, it sets you up for assaulting the enemy and will surely catch them off guard.

 All missiles need time to arm. Surprise the enemy by closing this gap and making their rockets worthless. Yes you will forego some limited shooting, but imagine the joy of your opponent’s confusion when their overpriced guided toys are unable to fire on your vaunted tanks.

While you are considering movement, don’t forget the true Soviet God of War. Artillery. Too often I hear bellyaching from lesser comrades complaining that the artillery they requested is too inaccurate. Our artillerists are not some sort of pizza delivery service, waiting on your beck and call. Like any professional, their service improves with careful planning and foresight.

Limited amounts of smoke ammunition has been kindly provided by the Motherland. Use this carefully.

Every. Single. Chance. You. Can.

Plan your fire of smoke before the start of a mission. Think carefully of where the decadent west would place their missiles – then target them for smoke. Yes, I know this is counterintuitive but even their much vaunted thermal sighting devices won’t cope with old fashioned White Phosphorus smoke screens.

Give your tankists a head start and provide them the screen they need, when they need it. This is more important than any destruction their explosive shells can inflict as it multiplies the effect of your tankists and their abilities.

Tank Command 101: How To Overcome Infantry Missile Teams

If you don’t fire the smoke allocation from your artillery at least once per mission, ask yourself why you didn’t? If the allocation is not used by a shrewd commander, it will be given elsewhere. We all know this is the Soviet way—we do not reward failure, we reward success. A mechanic who ignores his tools deserves failure. Similarly a commander who complains of defeat yet fails to maximise his strengths deserves the execution he will inevitably face.

Once you are comfortable with the smoke that the artillery has provided, then it is time to think ahead to getting your BMP observer to direct artillery onto the heads of the enemy’s missile teams. You did remember to enlist the help of considerable artillery assets and an observer for this artillery, comrade? The Party views failure more harshly than profligate wastage of high explosive ammunition.

If all the artillery ever does is prevents the enemy missileers from firing their weapons at our beloved tankist comrades, then vodka all around for our heroes in the artillery. This is success. All personnel need to be aware of the plan and their part to play. Artillery’s first priority is removing enemy firepower from the equation of battle. If this is done by pinning them and disrupting their fire, then this is more than acceptable.

Often your opponent will be unwise and have their cowardly commanders hiding in the rear, where they cannot influence the fight. We, as enlightened Soviet leaders, welcome such foolishness. But this is not our way. As a leader, you must be ready to influence the momentary hesitations of your forces. This can only be achieved by exposing your leadership to enemy fire. Do not fall into the trap that everything can be accomplished by radio link.

Even in the modern battlefield of the 1980s, the presence of a charismatic commander can prove the difference between success and failure. This is especially so when your troops need to be rallied from the effects of indirect fire.

Comrades, your tanks have a beautiful HE-Fin Stabilised round available. Focus this Soviet perfection upon the enemy’s commander. Look for a cluster of rear echelon hangers-on with too many radios and command vehicles with tents to house their western decadence. Target these whenever you can.

Tank Command 101: How To Overcome Infantry Missile Teams

As always, remember that our glorious Red Army has provided you with a combined arms force. Don’t assume that a pure tank formation is the correct solution to every problem. Even a lowly Soviet Rifleman can prove effective in stopping temporarily or permanently an enemy missileer. As always, if an enemy can’t fire at you, they can’t stop you. If they can’t stop you, then you can win. The enormous volume of fire that your AK teams throw out on the move is sufficient to at least keep enemy forces suppressed and can lead to handy casualties.

Tank Command 101: How To Overcome Infantry Missile Teams

As a rule, I would recommend attacking with no less than two platoons of Motor Rifles for your tank forces. It is the height of arrogance to assume that tanks can win alone. Gentlemen, you heard my comments earlier about the value of artillery. Similarly, having infantry will make all the difference for dealing with enemy anti tank missile forces.

Don’t forget our colleagues in Frontal Aviation also. Nothing upsets an enemy missile team than sitting under a barrage from the air. A salvo template is ideal for ruining the sights of a troublesome enemy missile ambush. Again, don’t think in terms of killing, think in terms of stopping return fire. If the enemy can’t prevent you taking objectives, then what threat are they to the mighty Soviet warrior? This, like your artillery, can be preplotted before the game.

Don’t rely on unskilled fighter pilots to be sure of finding the right aiming point—plan it beforehand for them !

In Summary, the article is written from a Soviet point of view but the solutions are just as noteworthy for any nationality seeking to reduce the effects of enemy missiles.

  1. Focus on objectives, not on enemy kills. Games are easier to win by taking and holding the enemy’s objectives than killing enemy teams.
  2. Spearhead. Use your scouts to get past or around enemy strong points, when you are able.
  3. Movement. Don’t be afraid to Dash and avoid contact initially. Speed is your friend, as long as you are out of Line of Sight of the enemy’s weapons.
  4. Use orders—especially Follow Me with units with good courage so that you can dash ALL your vehicles to within 8”/20cm of enemy vehicles, then with a courage roll, move an extra 4”/10cm closer for your forces. Yes you won’t be able to shoot that turn, but you just took away the chance to fire for next turn for the enemy missiles.
  5. Preplan your smoke missions for your advance to contact. There is no excuse for giving enemy missile teams a free turn’s shooting at your precious armour. All armies should use some sort of artillery of some kind.
  6. Work with a Forward Observer to improve the quality of your artillery fire, especially if using more than one battery. 
  7. Aim to cut off enemy commanders with aimed fire whenever you can. Mistaken target isn’t a perfect antidote but Brutal weapons can make all the difference. These include T64, T72, Chieftains, Canadian and Australian Leopard 1, French AMX10RC and AMX30B2 and M113 MRV (for Australians), all of which significantly increase your chances of killing dismounted enemy missile teams. Use these weapons when you can as they do improve your lethality.
  8. Use infantry to the enemy’s missile teams. Don’t assume your tanks will win alone.
  9. Air can be the deciding factor if it puts missiles out of action. Again, pins are as good as kills if the enemy doesn’t rally their troops quickly !
  10. Not listed above, but play the player, don’t assume that you should Attack every single time in your battle plan. By this I mean don’t forget that there is a point of TOO much anti tank missiles, to the extend it can affect the player operating them. I've noted both playing with and against numerous Milan that it encourages a defensive mindset. You as the OPFOR need to maintain the initiative. Missiles are not an offensive weapon.

Mess with the missile player’s head, choose defend with your tank formation against their Mech infantry. Watch them fail miserably at taking an objective in a fair fight game. Work to your strengths not theirs. Seek to surprise them, don’t assume that they will always Defend either.

Know your opponent, know their list and prepare yourself. Understand the ranges and AT of your enemy and plan accordingly. Work to what you can do and focus upon it. For example, if you are running Chieftains or Leopard 1’s with Brutal and facing Milan AT missiles, park your tanks just outside their range (such as 37”/92cm) and pummel them without the worry of return fire, applying Brutal rerolls of successful saves for each shot that connects.

I hope this has stirred some thoughts and activated some debate.

For the Motherland!

Last Updated On Thursday, January 17, 2019 by Luke at Battlefront