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Old 03-17-2010, 05:48 PM
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Default T2K: State of the U.S. Army in the late Twilight War

Here is a little "essay" that I've been working on for a while. I thought I would take the plunge and share it here. It's a work in progress and constructive criticisms and suggestion are welcome (please be gentle). The section on Organization, IMO, is pretty weak. The rest are a collection of my thoughts on what the U.S. Army- and most other armies- would look in the later years of the Twilight War.

Introduction

After nearly three years of heavy combat, and two years removed from significant replacements of men and equipment, by 2000, the U.S. Army in Europe is a shadow of its pre-war self. Nevertheless, with no peace in sight, adjustments were made at all levels to allow the remains of the U.S. Army to continue to fight its Soviet and Warsaw Pact counterparts.

Supply

With most supply depots either destroyed by tactical nuclear strikes or emptied of their contents, keeping the troops in the field fed and clothed had become increasingly difficult by the year 2000. As early as 1998, commanders in the field received orders instructing them to live off of the land. The massive American logistics system had almost completely broken down and could keep only a handful of units supplied at mere fraction of their operational requirements. Creative, proactive commanders quickly secured food producing areas and either employed civilian farmers or tasked available troops to begin cultivation of crops for food and fuel production. Commanders that neglected matters of supply soon found their troops approaching starvation and were forced to requisition food, sometimes by force, from the local population, greatly harming the U.S. Army’s civilian relations in the affected areas.

Prepackaged combat rations and other processed foodstuffs became increasingly scarce as 2000 dawned. Although MREs and the like were still issued as emergency rations, hard-baked bread, cured meats, canned goods, and field-brewed beer had become far more familiar as combat rations as the war grinded on. Field uniforms were routinely used far past the point of viability. Civilians were frequently employed mending or even making various items of uniform. As well as weapons, helmets, and body armor, hard to make uniform items like boots and LBE were routinely stripped from the dead and reissued. Overall, a certain DIY ethos developed as field units were forced to become increasingly self-sufficient.

Transportation

By the year 2000, the means to transport the limited quantities of food, fuel, and ammunition that were available to the front line troops had also become scarce. NATO’s supplies of military trucks had been winnowed down by attrition due both to enemy action and to extended hard use. A dearth of spare parts made repairing damaged or broken down vehicles incredibly difficult. Damaged and broken down vehicles were cannibalized to provide spare parts for other vehicles. Due to their mobile role, priority in motorized transport was given to the Army’s armored and mechanized divisions. Infantry divisions had to find other means to move their supplies and equipment. Horses in occupied areas were requisitioned and simple yet functional wheeled carriages were fashioned out of truck parts. Horse-drawn wagons soon became a common sight in the rear areas of units on both sides of the conflict and they were soon tasked in hauling much of the standard infantry divisions’ artillery as well as their supplies. In this regard, as in many others, armies in the year 2000 resembled the German and Soviet armies of WWII.

Although NATO armies typically did not create horse cavalry units on anything approaching the scope or scale of the Soviet and Polish armies, smaller horse-mounted combat units were developed and deployed. Typically, horse mounted units were not encountered in NATO armies in anything larger than battalion size. More often, horse cavalry units operated at company or platoon size. These units were usually employed for reconnaissance, screening larger units during advances or withdrawals, and rear-area security operations. Although not as fast as, and more vulnerable than, wheeled vehicles, horse cavalry’s cross-country mobility was unsurpassed. An example of a horse cavalry unit in U.S. Army service is the 5th Mechanized Infantry Division’s reconnaissance battalion, the 4th squadron of the 12th cavalry, which preceded the division’s ultimately disastrous raid into northern Poland in the summer of 2000.

In order to increase the mobility of units that lacked sufficient motorized transportation, several attempts were made to reintroduce the concept of bicycle-mounted units. Some army battalions were converted to bicycle infantry. These units often served as their parent regiment’s mobile reserve.

Replacement Personnel

By late 1998, the flow of replacement troops from the United States slowed to a trickle. Those troops that did arrive in the ETO were poorly trained and marginally equipped with heavy weapons. Supply simply could not keep up with demand. Heavy combat losses could not be replaced at anything approaching a 1 for 1 basis. If fact, only about 10% of all combat losses from mid 1998 were replaced by American troops from the CONUS. Battlefield commanders were forced to find replacement combat troops from among the thousands of rear echelon soldiers already in theater. By 2000, this pool was considerably smaller than it had been in the war’s first two years. In many cases, rear echelon troops had suffered more from tactical nuclear strikes against the operational rear areas than front line combat troops had.

First to be pulled for front line duty were the pilots and ground crew of air force and army units who, due to aircraft losses and the scarcity of fuel and spare parts for what few aircraft remained, found themselves surplus to requirements. Then dedicated air defense troops who, by mid 1998, had largely lost their raison de etre, were drafted into Army units. Finally beached navy personnel, their ships destroyed or damaged beyond repair in the fierce fleet and small unit actions of 1997 and ’98, were called upon to serve in ground combat formations (when local circumstances permitted, navy personnel were usually assigned as replacements for Marine infantry units). Although some naval infantry and Air Force field units were formed during the Twilight War’s later years, these units were usually relatively small. The majority of surplus Air Force and Navy personnel were integrated into existing Army units. By early 2000 around 35% of all divisional personnel were former Air Force, Navy, and Army aviation and air defense troops.

Another method for increasing the fighting strength of American ground combat units was reducing the amount of time wounded servicemen (and women) spent convalescing before returning to active duty. Soldiers who in previous wars would have been sent home with a “million dollar wound” were cycled back into combat units. Soldiers with more serious wounds- those missing limbs, for example- were often assigned to logistics services.

After 1997, it became increasingly common to encounter troops from allied militaries serving in American combat units. Field commanders, desperate for experienced manpower, often made little or no effort to return stranded allied personnel (often wounded troops returning to duty after receiving treatment in American medical facilities) to their original units. Although many of these men deserted and returned to their own forces when the opportunity presented itself, hundreds (if not thousands) of allied troops elected to remain in their assigned American units after developing strong bonds with their new American comrades in arms. Therefore, it was not uncommon to meet British and German soldiers serving in American units (and vice-versa). Less common, but also present in American fighting units by 2000, were Canadians, Danes, Dutch, and even Australian troops.

In addition to allied troops, some former enemy troops were also eventually incorporated into U.S. army units. Enemy defectors were often employed as translators and guides. POW camps throughout the ETO were canvassed for enemy combat personnel deemed safe/stable enough to be employed as laborers or supply troops. As time wore on, many of these defectors and former prisoners found their way into combat formations. By 2000, it was not unusual to encounter former enemy combatants serving in U.S. Army line infantry units. Although there were some notable exceptions, for the most part, former enemy soldiers were assimilated piecemeal into existing American units rather than being organized wholesale into nationally homogenous “foreign legions”.

This fresh infusion of military personnel, a large proportion of which was relatively untrained and inexperienced in ground combat, was still not nearly enough to replace the devastating losses suffered by combat units. In order to free up more American soldiers for combat duty, rear echelon troops had to be culled for combat replacements. More and more duties traditionally fulfilled by rear-echelon troops were turned over to local civilian volunteers. Most supply production and distribution duties were entrusted to local civilian “contactors”. In some cases where volunteers were not forthcoming, civilians were “conscripted”. Field commanders who were able to recruit and employ willing civilian workers in these essential noncombat tasks were able to significantly increase the fighting ability of their units.

Organization

By 2000, most United States army and Marine divisions were operating at around a third of their authorized operational strengths, oftentimes much less. This posed numerous organizational and operational complications for field commanders. In many cases, shattered brigades were disbanded and their surviving personnel used as replacements for other units. The number of maneuver battalions in each brigade was often reduced. Infantry companies routinely operated at around pre-war TOE platoon strength. Most armored brigades contained only enough functional MBTs to equip a single tank battalion. Due to heavy losses in IFVs and APCs, mechanized infantry divisions were often forced to reequip at least one of their brigades with trucks, some of which were lightly armored by field depots. Wherever possible, captured enemy vehicles were used to supplement the dwindling supplies of domestically manufactured vehicles and were often organized into separate units. For example, a mechanized infantry battalion might contain one company mounted in M2 Bradley IFVs, another in M113 APCs, and a third equipped with captured BMP-2s. As with combat personnel, allied AFVs were often claimed by American units. For example, in July of 2000, the U.S. 2nd Marine Division listed a former Bundeswher Leopard III on its rolls.

In order to mislead enemy military intelligence as to NATO units’ actual strengths, and to provide whatever morale boost divisional identity and tradition may have given its members, divisional designations were maintained.

Late in the Twilight War, Divisional, brigade, and regimental HQs routinely operated with reduced staffs. Battalions, companies, and platoons were often commanded officers of lower grade than their established TOEs called for. Many platoons were commanded by NCOs. Field commissions were granted in abundance but the Army bureaucracy was so broken down that many of those commissions were never officially recognized.
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Old 03-17-2010, 10:29 PM
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Very nice. You've summed up some of the material being discussed on the board quite tidily. The reorganization of divisions that nevertheless retain their original designations is a good thing to have addressed.

The fact that battlefield commissions sometimes aren't reported/recognized raises an interesting question. With such a widespread breakdown in record-keeping, a straggler could claim to be just about anybody. I wonder how many soldiers have fake ranks.

Good work!

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Old 03-18-2010, 12:48 AM
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Very good and right on the money in most respects. The organisation section doesn't seem as weak as you think either.

On that note, back in the day my unit conducted an exercise with only about 1/3rd strength. What has stuck in my mind the most is the "company" attack we put in on a relatively weak emeny of about 12 men (I think - it was 15+ years ago).

We had three plattoons of three sections each with 3 men (usually 9-10) plus company HQ. Each section had an M60 machinegun, an M16/M203 and an L1A1 SLR armed rifleman who also carried an M72 LAW.

The terrain was light woods with a fair amount of fallen timber. Ground cover was tall grass of up to waist high (but averaging knee high). Everyone was equiped with EWIS gear (lasers and sensors similar to the US MILES).

The attack went very badly from the start. With so few men available, the frontage to be covered and tall vegetation meant it was extremely difficult to maintain contact with those either side of you. Within the first few minutes the entire left flank was wiped out to a man. The reserve plattoon was pushed up to replace them and also wiped out.

Over on the right flank (where I was) all I could see was our section gunner trying to dash across a narrow dirt track of maybe 3-4 metres - they didn't make it. The M16 was killed a few moments later leaving just me digging a hole into the dirt with my eyeballs. I was able to reach and recover the M16 at which time the withdrawal order was given. A rifle in each hand I crawled back to the start line while providing my own cover fire.

The whole encounter had lasted no more than 15 minutes from leaving the line of departure to returning to it. Besides company HQ which had not been directly engaged only myself and one of the other section commanders remained "alive".

The enemy, which had been given about an hour to dig in, suffered no casualties.

I feel this scenario accurately highlights issues which would be faced by T2K commanders. The lack of manpower will be absolutely disasterous for any offensive actions at less than battalion level (or don't at least include fire support from mortars or artillery). Defense on the other hand, even with limited numbers, is likely to become the normal method of operation besides the odd raid which will aim not to destroy the enemy but sneak in and steal supplies.
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Old 03-18-2010, 02:21 AM
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Good work, Raellus.

A nice and clear summary. I think that, for active referees, it is a good reading to introduce a group of players with US characters in the Twilight background.
Right now I'm refeering two groups running the same campaign in Poland. Your little essay would had been useful in the first session of each group.
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Old 03-18-2010, 02:54 AM
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Right now I'm refeering two groups running the same campaign in Poland. Your little essay would had been useful in the first session of each group.
I agree, maybe we should make a list of the most useful threads for GMs to give players unfamiliar with the game.
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Old 03-18-2010, 07:01 AM
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This is the first thread I have seen where the overall picture of things have been simplified enough without going too simple. Especially on the re-organization of large units. Uhm Legbreaker, you seem to answer why many units commanders simply chose to ignore their orders than to join any attack. For most operation they units would be so spread out, that the defenders would enjoy the advantage. Part of the reason even Krakow with it large ORMO wouldn't go out actively hunt bandits, until they had became such a pain they had to do something about them. Most of the leaders understood there was very little they could do.
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Old 03-18-2010, 07:55 AM
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Raellus, this is a really good piece of work - well done. I really like this...
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Old 03-18-2010, 08:29 AM
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Very nice Raellus. A fine summation.
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Old 03-18-2010, 10:14 AM
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Thanks for the kudos, guys. I'm really pleased that you like it.

Feel free to use this essay as a resource for your games. I would be thrilled if you do.

I plan on expanding it a bit and I'll be sure to post the final product when it's complete.
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Old 03-18-2010, 11:20 AM
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It definitely works as an essay. Not to mention, some word about the mental state of the Army at this point. The survivors of the first two years of the war are going to be on the ragged edge, to put it mildly. I can see all sorts of problems with that, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and other behavior one finds with troops in action for far too long.

Now, put into the mix a bunch of barely trained replacements who are scared, far from home and have NO idea what to do. Your MP detachments are going to be busy. I could see the size of these units increasing somewhat. Punishments are going to need to get creative...I wonder if a return to some Civil War methods might return, as the threat of sanctions under UCMJ aren't going to have the same force they used to have.

Another interesting idea, developing the DIY idea to it's logical extent. The cantonments aren't just going to have farms or cottage industries, but factories (in the 2000 sense of the term) making everything from primers for reloads, to new bicycles...how one's going to get rubber for tires and boots is going to be interesting....
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Old 03-18-2010, 11:49 AM
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Good points, Jason. I will be sure to address them in the next draft. Stay tuned.
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
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Legbreaker, you seem to answer why many units commanders simply chose to ignore their orders than to join any attack.
I rather doubt it actually. Once one or two actions with organisations such as this failed miserably, companies would have to be consolidated into just one platoon. To least small units at such appalling low strength and expect them to fight would at best be absolutely criminal.
As can be seen in my RL example, using under strength units at the levels of T2K is nothing short of suicidal.

This is not to say prewar unit designations aren't still being used, just that infantry companies for example now consist of only one platoon, or perhaps two very weak ones rather than the three of prewar. Likewise, prewar company operations would now require the full strength of the battalion to expect any measure of success.
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Old 03-18-2010, 06:08 PM
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Continuing with what Jason has pointed, I think that morale status should be added when looking to the state of any army. I’m very interested in your opinions of the fellow posters about this and I think it will help to complete the picture presented by Raellus.

Given my current campaign I’m most interested about the battered US units fighting in Europe. They are far away from home and possibly without clear news about their relatives... Any place near my home has been nuked? The news about the political situation in their home country would be confusing and, perhaps, deliberately filtered or manipulated. Anyway, rumors of all colors will be circulating and evolving with astonishing speed. Any poster who have been served in any army know this. The idea that the war in Europe is in a firm stalemate and that the continuous lost of lives in a foreign country is useless would have gained followers. Some of them will be convinced that the military in high echelons are aware of this and rumors about a possible evacuation will be in the mouth of everyone long before operation Omega will become a reality. Perhaps this hope would act as a cohesive fact and will prevent a good number of desertions.

As an example, in our pre-Kalisz campaign and following my own personal criteria, I considered that the announcement of the new offensive in northern Poland is a strong strike to the morale of some of the soldiers of the units implied. “One more time...? They are asking us to do it one more time… “This could be the dominating thought in the mind of these soldiers before this last military effort. Letting apart the reasons behind the offensive, the individual soldier thinks in their own personal micro-world. He/she has managed to stay alive all these years in the worst conditions. Now, when that situation seemed somewhat stable, with only minor skirmishes and when all the efforts must be directed towards the day to day fight to obtain food… now with all these rumors about returning home…”they are asking us to do it one more time”.
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Old 03-18-2010, 08:49 PM
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As an example, in our pre-Kalisz campaign and following my own personal criteria, I considered that the announcement of the new offensive in northern Poland is a strong strike to the morale of some of the soldiers of the units implied. “One more time...? They are asking us to do it one more time…"
This is a very interesting question and one that I must ponder a bit. I will definitely address the topic of morale in my next revision.

I'm interested in what others think about the issue of morale (or lack thereof) in the late Twilight War. Thoughts?
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Old 03-18-2010, 10:25 PM
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A quick look at the units just before the offensive shows us that they were still capable at least as far as armoured strength and numbers. The situation wasn't great, but when the enemy strengths were also considered, it would have been a fair assumption by commanders that they were all still effective.

This feeling would have been passed down the chain of command through briefings of officers if not through propaganda, etc
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Old 03-18-2010, 11:28 PM
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Propagandizing one's own troops would have been a priority mission during the Twilight War. I think we will have a very difficult time imagining the mindset of the troops in mid-2000, or later. Most of their frames of reference are gone. The survivors have endured a trauma unlike anything seen in the Western world since perhaps the big outbreak of the Black Plague or maybe the fall of Rome. Survivors of the 1941-1942 winter fighting on the Eastern Front might be able to give us some idea. Perhaps the Germans in May of 1945 could tell us something of what is going on in the heads of the troops of 2000. The survivors of the Tokyo firebombing or in Horishima or Nagasaki might have some idea. Obviously, there is going to be tremendous variability.

What are the troops of XI Corps thinking as they receive orders to move out from their cantonments in 2000? We may conjecture; but I think the men and women who have made it that far will have been on such an emotional roller coaster that even those of us who have been in combat probably can't identify with them, except in the most rudimentary of ways. Simply to be alive is to suffer from PTSD.

I'll bet the churches of Europe are full.

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Old 03-19-2010, 04:37 AM
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What are the troops of XI Corps thinking as they receive orders to move out from their cantonments in 2000? We may conjecture; but I think the men and women who have made it that far will have been on such an emotional roller coaster that even those of us who have been in combat probably can't identify with them, except in the most rudimentary of ways. Simply to be alive is to suffer from PTSD.

I'll bet the churches of Europe are full.

Webstral
I would think the same if the war in Europe has continued without pause in 1999. I’m following v2.2 timeline, so I do not know if the same pause exists in the v1 timeline. But in 1999 the main activity seems to turn around marauding raids and protective measures against them. So, most units remain static through this year and no important military movement is mentioned until the NATO offensive in 2000. This interruption, although not a total pause, could create some hope of an end of hostilities in soldiers of both sides.

Some units will establish or consolidate their own cantonments. German units seems to have advanced more in the cantonment systems that their allies in Europe. It seems reasonable given that they are in their own land. Probably NATO and US high command will try to discourage their units to do the same. Establishing a cantonment not only implies that you are taking a defensive role, trying to control enough land to keep your unit fed. It implies a certain degree of resignation to take any important offensive action in the short term. And it means a change in the mentality and the role developed by your soldiers. In any case, something resembling to a cantonment must be established. An entire year to recover oneself or suffer the sequels due to all the lived experiences. And an entire year to listen and expand rumors in a limited conflict environment, but with a safe base, ties with the local population and occupations related to guard duties, maintenance, farming or recovery. And the sensation that everything will be over because both sides are exhausted and have suffered terrible loses with little or no gain. Change this way of live to adjust your mentality to launch yourself another time to the offensive could be a hard process.
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Old 03-19-2010, 07:07 AM
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It also means that units and their commanders are moving from the mentality of one in Armor/Mechanized Force that you should always be on move and only stay in place long enough to get resupply if you have to wait for them to catch up. It also implies that your supply chain is failing, which it has.

Granted Germans would have the advantage to building up their cantonments since they are in their own country, where allied units, there will be those in the area looking at the units as just another occupation force much like the Polish would look at the Soviets in cantonments in their country.

Honest, I don't see the Soviet High Command being too thrilled with any Division of theirs or allies setting up cantonments for it means the unit doesn't plan on moving for awhile and the Soviets much like NATO relied on units being highly mobile.

Legbreak in theory the unit would be consolidated, but there are plenty examples where Company/Troop size units were still operating under the previous system and no one seem to say, "Hey we have only an oversize platoon here, let reorganize it as such." Company Commanders still wanted to have all the resource they could get, and in some cases it meant keeping old organization even though they were in many case down to platoon level or less.
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Old 03-19-2010, 01:30 PM
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Here is a rough draft of the "chapter" on morale.

Your suggestions are welcome. I could use your help since I don't know what the official U.S. Army designations/equivalents are for morale and/or propaganda officers. I'm not real happy with the CRC acronym either.

The next chapter will be on health, mental and physical.


Morale

Following years of nearly constant fighting, reduced supplies, and little to no contact with the folks back home, morale in the U.S. Army of 2000 was understandably low. Efforts were made to boost the troops’ morale, increase their fighting spirit, and discourage desertion.

After the nuclear exchanges, USO shows and other official morale-boosting entertainments all but ceased. Enterprising morale officers took stock of local talent and recruited musicians, actors, comedians, and other performers from among the troops to stage improvised shows for the their comrades.

After the TDM, leaves were by and large dispensed with. Most major leave centers had been destroyed by nuclear strikes and small groups of unarmed troops were no longer safe travelling the roads between surviving population centers. This removal of even the temporary respite of a hard-earned leave no doubt led to a widespread decrease in morale. Morale officers had to get creative. Modest leave centers offering bathing facilities, clean sheets, food, drink, games, and other entertainments were set up in cantonment rear areas to provide some relief for exhausted, battle-weary troops. Whenever possible, troops were rotated through these cantonment recreation centers (CRCs) in an attempt to improve their morale.

American propaganda officers made great use of the fact that dozens of American cities had been destroyed, and millions of civilians killed, by Soviet nuclear strikes. “Remember the TDM” (Thanksgiving Day Massacre) became a slogan frequently employed to demonize the communist enemy and rouse American troops’ fighting spirits. To a lesser extent, the idea that soldiers were fighting for freedom and democracy- the “American Way of Life”- against a godless, totalitarian regime bent on world domination also motivated many of the more idealistic troops to fight on.

The cantonment, with its strong sense of community involvement and belonging, also acted as a pull-factor to keep soldiers from deserting. Many soldiers continued to fight more to defend their local cantonment than to defend their distant homeland.

Despite the Army’s best efforts, desertion became an increasing problem and field commanders were given extended latitude in dealing with deserters. Desertion was discouraged to some extent by geography. Outside CONUS, most American troops were unfamiliar with the language and culture of their surroundings. The sense of being a stranger in a strange land probably went a long way in maintaining unit cohesion. The cantonment offered a tangible sense of community and belonging to the troops who lived, worked, and fought there. Tales of cutthroat marauders* roaming the areas outside most cantonments also discouraged some would-be deserters.

*In nearly all cases, marauders were said to have been enemy deserters or local bandits. Reports of American or NATO marauder bands were generally suppressed as much as possible.

Nonetheless, officers had to contend with the slow but steady loss of fighting manpower to desertion. Over time, the Army developed a carrot- and-stick approach to discourage desertion. From time to time, amnesties were offered to deserters (the message being delivered by air-dropped leaflets and vehicle-mounted loudspeakers). Floggings and firing squads acted as the stick. Many units saw a return to corporal and capital punishment for a range of offenses, desertion foremost among them. Discipline was usually left up to the division commander and some deservedly earned a reputation for strict and sometimes brutal enforcement.

In most cases, however, soldiers kept fighting for the same reason soldiers have continued to fight under miserable circumstances for millennia- they fought for their buddies.
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Old 03-19-2010, 09:52 PM
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Here is a rough draft of the "chapter" on morale.

Your suggestions are welcome. I could use your help since I don't know what the official U.S. Army designations/equivalents are for morale and/or propaganda officers. I'm not real happy with the CRC acronym either.
The term you'd use is MWR, Morale, Welfare and Recreation. There would be a MWR center or MWR tent on larger posts, smaller units (company size) have a recreation room referred to as the "dayroom". While there were European-level MWR facilities (including entire resort complexes), MWR follows the troops fairly closely.

As to who's responsible, there are two options. At the battalion and brigade level (peacetime, maybe brigade and division in 2000), the chaplain plays a significant role in maintaining the morale of the troops.

He's the only officer, in general terms, that plays a direct role in morale, other than the obvious good leader = dedicated troops in garrison and combat, poor leader = lead from the rear, so none of your own troops can lodge a bullet in your back. But the day to day little things that keep morale up is the purview of the NCO corps, often a mid-grade NCO (E-5 to E-7). Any higher rank makes the effort suspect, as GI's have a tendency to hate "mandatory fun" imposed from on high. In a company, its the first sergeant and platoon sergeant's jobs to monitor and maintain morale, while the actual duties (mail clerk, getting videos, maintaining the weight room, organizing a softball or football game, grabbing some newspapers or magazines from somewhere else) is performed by a lower rank soldier, usually somebody from the company headquarters like the commander's or first sergeants' driver, the supply clerk/armorer or the commo specialist. At battalion level, the sergeant major monitors morale, in addition to the chaplain (if any).

And with the chaplain, he plays a critical role. In addition to his spiritual duties, he's considered a neutral or friendly advocate that is to a large extent exempt from the chain of command. His duties extend well beyond conducting religious services and counseling individual soldiers... he frequently lobbies the commander on the troops' behalf to maintain/improve living conditions. And chaplains also maintain a "spiritual neutrality" in that they generally don't proselytize their particular religion - it doesn't matter if a soldier is Lutheran and the battalion has a rabbi, the soldier will receive the same treatment from his chaplain. (Chaplains in a command will work together to arrange the appropriate services - in Desert Storm, where non-Moslem services were prohibited by Saudi law, units held "Morale Meeting C", "Morale Meeting P" and "Morale Meeting J" at various times.)

And the chaplain may have to "look the other way" as far as the other means of relieving tension... camp followers. We've had a number of discussions over the years of this seedy underside of morale; even if the command (rightly) tries to suppress it, it'll probably happen anyhow, starting with the same civilian "contractors" you mentioned. (There were constant rumors about the various young ladies that worked the mess halls, barber shops and laundries on posts in Bosnia).

MWR facilities in an operational zone usually include movie tents, workout facilities, dry bars (non-alcoholic, or a 2-beer limit), American-style restaurants (in Desert Shield some units received McDonalds, hours old and cold, for Thanksgiving dinner and were overjoyed to do so!) and sports.

On top of that, living facilities make a big difference day to day. You mentioned hot showers and clean sheets. Having a solid roof rather than a tent, not living in mud and filth, hot food at least once a day, being able to clean uniforms, not being overcrowded and having a place to relax (segregated by rank - lower enlisted, junior NCOs, senior NCOs & officers) all come into play too.

So that's kind of the day-to-day morale issues in the US Army, somewhat different from the morale that makes soldiers hard chargers willing to follow their PL into the teeth of Soviet troops. Its the kind that makes soldiers attentive on guard, not desert, take care of their gear and so on.

As for what makes soldiers act and fight hard, I'll let one the paratroopers and marines talk about that kind of esprit de corps. Infantry units in general tend to be filled with pretty aggressive guys, and many a MWR facility has been seriously damaged before the MPs arrive. The next morning the senior NCOs administer the usual ass-chewing, but then follow it up with: "Did you beat their asses or get beat yourself? You better have given better than you took!" And in inter-unit fights, it's us against them, at whatever the convenient level: NATO vs Pact, Americans vs Turks, Army vs Air Force, 1st Bde vs Divarty, 1st Bn vs 2nd Bn, C Co. vs A. Co., and so on...

Hope this helps! Looking forward to more of this quality piece!
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:28 PM
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Legbreaker in theory the unit would be consolidated, but there are plenty examples where Company/Troop size units were still operating under the previous system and no one seem to say, "Hey we have only an oversize platoon here, let reorganize it as such." Company Commanders still wanted to have all the resource they could get, and in some cases it meant keeping old organization even though they were in many case down to platoon level or less.
Keeping the pre-war standard of three infantry platoons per company, three companies (plus mortars, etc) per battalion (or however each nationality handles it) and so on requires sufficient officers to be available to command the units.

It is usual for officers (and NCOs) to suffer a higher casualty rate in combat than privates and similarly low ranks. This is because their role requires them to take more risks, leading by example and poking their heads up out of cover so they can maintain some idea of the overall situation. Therefore, there would not be enough command personnel available to keep the pre-war structure and so consolidation would be vital (or you end up with leaderless units, or units run by Corporals or even Privates).

As shown in the R/L exercise, a seriously understrength unit is completely ineffective. Because of this (and going from memory), units today are withdrawn from front line service if they suffer around 30-40% casualties, rebuilt with reinforcements and then sent back. Even the strongest T2K units have suffered in the order of 50-70% casualties.

Without reinforcements, there would be little to no choice but to consolidate smaller units while hoping to be able to reincorporate the other elements once reinforcements arrived.

Tanks and other AFVs have been proven over the past century to be extremely vulnerable when operating alone and without infantry support. Therefore a Divisions armour assets are likely to be amongst the first to be consolidated. I would expect a similar situation with aircraft and artillery - a single 105mm gun isn't anywhere near as effective a battery as 3-4 of them even if they have a near endless supply of ammunition.
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:53 PM
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You might see authorized brothels appear in the cantonments. The surviving American officers might be forced by events to relax their puritanical standards and provide women for the sake of morale. The alternatives are continuing to lose men to STDs or making a self-defeating effort to completely control to movements of every private. Since it's the Ladies' Church Muffin Club types of America that keep us quite immature in the area of soldiers and sexuality, it might be fairly easy to convince post-Exchange leaders that each cantonment needs a brothel with its own medical personnel to check the women regularly.

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Old 03-20-2010, 01:31 AM
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US soldiers in a sexually liberated Europe. Now there's a scary thought (and one that's likely to result in many "unplanned families" once the contraceptives run out).
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Old 03-20-2010, 02:24 AM
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It's got to be better than the alternative. The way young American servicemembers behave in Amsterdam is just embarrassing.

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Old 03-20-2010, 07:25 AM
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Despite the Army’s best efforts, desertion became an increasing problem and field commanders were given extended latitude in dealing with deserters.
As you've mentioned, desertion would most certainly be more of a problem in English speaking areas than in Europe, the Middle East or Korea. The language barrier would be a huge impediment to small groups or individuals trying to make it on their own.
Also, desertion when overseas could be seen by many as admitting all hope of returning home was gone. While ever at least some mail got through from time to time, soldiers would probably hang on to the hope that the military (and whatever was left of the government) might be able to scrape up enough transportation to get them all home again. I imagine great effort would be made to maintain at least minimal contact with the US, propaganda units going to far as to print fake copies of newspapers and magazines from home to distribute amongst the troops.

The reality might well be all hope was gone, but the illusion would have to be maintained at all costs.
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It's got to be better than the alternative. The way young American servicemembers behave in Amsterdam is just embarrassing.
It's bad enough when they're over here in Australia. I don't even want to think about how they'd be in a country where prostitution and marijuana are legal! :O
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Old 03-20-2010, 10:20 AM
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Thank you Raellus for your interesting and thought provoking essays. Thanks for your permission to borrow your ideas, I intend to do so extensively I look forward to reading more.

In my campaign, the locations of nuclear strikes are highly classified info due to the morale implications. My players have to decide for themselves if they still receive letters from home or not. Fortunately I don't think we have the slightest idea what would be the mindset of T2k military survivors (although being role-players we try); many of my NPCs would be considered stark, staring mad today, but I reckon it has survival value in T2k.
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Old 03-21-2010, 04:44 PM
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Thanks, Ironside.

I will use MWR. I'll also add a section on chaplains, another on brothels, and another on espirit de corps.

I wonder how much espirit de corps some units would have. Those kicked around and/or nuked before being reconstituted would probably not have much. Other, more successful/storied units likely would.

Another idea I had for maintaining unit cohesion and morale is to have recuperated wounded return to their parent unit instead of to a general replacement pool. I know that the Marines and Airborne units did this in WWII whereas the regular army did not.
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Old 03-21-2010, 08:57 PM
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I will use MWR. I'll also add a section on chaplains, another on brothels, and another on espirit de corps.
Great work as always Rae. Hopefully you'll be able to fit in a sentence or two on the espirit de corps of brothel chaplains. A niche occupation I know but very valuable!
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:08 PM
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A group of soldiers is standing outside such a brothel with their Chaplain, he turns to them and says, "Go, and do god's work this day..."

Did I go too far with that one?
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Old 03-21-2010, 10:27 PM
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Surely not. "Be fruitful and mutliply." As I can tell you from my experience at the head of the classroom, any skills you want your people to master requires practice. This goes for multiplication in particular and math in general.

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