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Author Topic: Smallest Organizational Unit where strategic operations actually become viable?  (Read 6283 times)

pupecki

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What do you consider to be the smallest organizational unit structure that is actually capable of effectively carrying  out strategic operations at a state/national level? Continental level? Planetary level?

beachhead1985

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Depends how mobile they are. A Division is useless without ships to move it, but a battalion with full drop and jumpship support can be a serious upset, even on the strategic level.

People forget that not all the house units are exactly...self-propelled...shall we say? In the strategic sense. That means they don't own the assets they need to move. Which is a resource drain and the opposite of a strategic asset.
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pheonixstorm

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Battalion level for mechs or regimental level for armor and infantry.

Colt Ward

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A single agent can engage in strategic operations that can have a large impact.

But to answer you question, I think you have to consider the target/objective . . . do you want to tie down a large number of defenders?  Send a battalion or two on a raid into the enemy's zone of control and watch them scramble units to try to pin down those battalions- especially if your planning is adequate so you do not leave a clue where to actually catch the unit in a raid.  Consider something like Operation Audacity where Katherine, Victor and Warden Wolf units raided into the JFOZ to slow down the Falcon Incursion as well as divert units to hunt down the attacks/retake worlds.  The only thing that stopped the raids from being more decisive is b/c Marthe prepared for Crusader Wolf interference which had happened in the Coventry campaign, those preparations were able counteract a lot of the Lyran/Wolf actions.

Am I invading Tikonov?  Well, a pair of battalions just are not going to do it- we are talking about brigades.

So it all depends on the objectives of the operation.
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victor_shaw

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While I don't completely disagree with Colt Ward when he says that unit size is not the determining factor.
I would say that it doesn't depend on what you need to send, but what you can afford to lose for the overall operational goal to be achieved.
Simply put, if you send a battalion and can afford to lose it and its lose can still lead to overall operation success it's not a strategic unit, its a tactical unit.
It comes down to pawns vs. rooks,etc.
Strategic unit are the units needed to complete the overall campaign goal of the operation.
If a battalion at 75% loses can achieve this it is a "Strategic unit" were it's component companies are tactical units.
Now that said a real operational commander (outside the clans) would try to find the optimized point where minimum losses for maximum gain is achieved.
As for the Secret agent man, he/she is always a tactical asset during the operation, as his/her lose is always considered a fact in the strategic plan. While useful strategic information can be gained from him/her it rarely moves beyond the planning stage with commanders/generals preferring combat recon in the field. (scouts,air,space)

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One warrior captured a planet.

One assassin rocked New Syrtis defense during the FCCW.
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victor_shaw

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One warrior captured a planet.

One assassin rocked New Syrtis defense during the FCCW.

Not saying that these are not possible, but these are the exceptions to the rule and not the rule.

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While I would normally suggest a headhunter mission would require a team, which is usually referred to as a squad in any other sort of organization, you do get the lone wolves.  The one that went after Hasek was a lone wolf wanting the challenge.

And just because a unit operates tactically does not mean you do not account for it strategically.
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victor_shaw

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While I would normally suggest a headhunter mission would require a team, which is usually referred to as a squad in any other sort of organization, you do get the lone wolves.  The one that went after Hasek was a lone wolf wanting the challenge.

And just because a unit operates tactically does not mean you do not account for it strategically.
You are correct, you account for it as part of the battalion in the above example.
So the battalion would be as the OP asked the "Smallest Organizational Unit where strategic operations actually become viable"
« Last Edit: 22 August 2019, 00:03:25 by victor_shaw »

Colt Ward

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Except the part where I can break a Death Commando or DEST platoon up into smaller groups to take out a strategic objective.  Send platoon to X planet before invasion, send 2 squads after the HQ facility, a squad w/demo after the com/sensor uplink, and break a squad down into a pair of fire teams- one to kill the planetary defense commander and one to drive a car bomb into the planetary governor's mansion.

All of them are strategic targets.
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victor_shaw

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Except the part where I can break a Death Commando or DEST platoon up into smaller groups to take out a strategic objective.  Send platoon to X planet before invasion, send 2 squads after the HQ facility, a squad w/demo after the com/sensor uplink, and break a squad down into a pair of fire teams- one to kill the planetary defense commander and one to drive a car bomb into the planetary governor's mansion.

All of them are strategic targets.

No, all of them are tactical missions within strategic operation.
A HQ facility or planetary governor's mansion are tactical targets.
Killing the governor or taking out the command of a force can contribute to the victory, but they are not the strategic objective in a invasion.
Strategic objective (Planetary Invasion) are key to taking control of the planet, destruction of on planet defenses, capture of military Drop-port, and key production facilities.
While a Death Commando or DEST platoon can take out a force commander or planetary governor, they would be hard pressed to take and hold a military Drop-port.

Strategic objectives: are long-term organizational goals that help to convert a mission statement from a broad vision into more specific plans and projects.
Tactical objectives: are the immediate short-term desired result of a given activity, task, or mission.

example: Sending a Death Commando to kill the planetary governor does little to help you if he is hated by the people and soldiers, but they still don't want to be under Capellan rule.
Same situation with Marik regulars defending the planet, they are loyal to and take orders from House Marik, not the planetary governor so killing him would be of little use on a strategic level.

Now if the goal was to destabilize the planets government, causing a pro Liao uprising thus bring the planet into the Confederation without a fight.
That would be a strategic objective, and the Death Commando would be a strategic asset.
« Last Edit: 22 August 2019, 18:18:21 by victor_shaw »

Daryk

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Two words in support of Colt's point: "Snow Fire".

Aside from that, in BattleTech, planetary invasions are at best operational level.  In an interstellar empire, planets are on the level of counties or sub-regions.

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If you want a force that'll always be able to provide to any situation strategically. An augmented mixed forces company, with 1 or 2 dropships of support (depending on how you want to go about movement). Hear me out:

A SLDF style air lance, a vehicle lance with a M.A.S.H and recovery vehicle attached, 1 platoon infantry and 1 special ops squad (BA optional). So 4 mechs, 2 asf, 6 vees, and 24 infantry with 4-8 of those being capable of the kinds of things Colt's mentioned. Provided all in the "company" work together you have ground forces that should be suited for holding or taking any location against similar strength or heavier strength of single unit type. Not something I'd throw at a regiment, but configured correctly they should handle assaulting a company or defending a location vs two companies. They're good for making the command core of something quickly assembled, and they can break down into individual force types for specific tasks without trying to pull together combined arms piecemeal.

It's admittedly jack-of-all master-of-none when you do combined arms at that small of scale, but when applied correctly Jack is sufficient.
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  A single nuclear warhead could obliterate a strategic target, the delivery system doesn't matter.

  A handful of civilians flew non-military aircraft into buildings and cost a superpower tens of trillions of dollars over the next two decades.

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  A single nuclear warhead could obliterate a strategic target, the delivery system doesn't matter.

  A handful of civilians flew non-military aircraft into buildings and cost a superpower tens of trillions of dollars over the next two decades.

Or a single Croatian plunged Europe into one of the bloodiest wars ever . . .
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Daryk

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Colt is still right... the right single person in the right place at the right time can ABSOLUTELY have strategic effects.

victor_shaw

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This line of thought has gotten way out there.
In this line of thought the flea, that bit the dog, that ran out into the road, that caused the generals car to swerve, causing the accident that killed him, Causing his troops to brake and run, is a strategic unit.
Or the light lance that while retreating from a battle, happens upon the HQ and kills the general is a strategic unit.
These are Acts of GOD not strategic unit.
A unit is a strategic unit if it has been assigned a strategic goal by the commanding powers.
It does not become a strategic unit just because it happened to be at the right place at the right time.
It is a tactic unit that by an Acts of GOD completed an unplanned strategic goal.   

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Snow Fire was absolutely planned...

Colt Ward

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How is assassinating the commander of a planet's defense not a strategic act?  Katherine SD vaguely (b/c it was her style) ordered the assassination of George Hasek to undermine the defense of New Syrtis in part b/c she did not have the resources- due to the strategic picture- to send more units?  Her team's strategic planning relied on a force multiplier (in this case negative) effect to outweigh that the loyalists did not send enough troops for the 3-1 formula.

So, the single Rabid Fox was a strategic unit.
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victor_shaw

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How is assassinating the commander of a planet's defense not a strategic act?  Katherine SD vaguely (b/c it was her style) ordered the assassination of George Hasek to undermine the defense of New Syrtis in part b/c she did not have the resources- due to the strategic picture- to send more units?  Her team's strategic planning relied on a force multiplier (in this case negative) effect to outweigh that the loyalists did not send enough troops for the 3-1 formula.

So, the single Rabid Fox was a strategic unit.

My point was you can't depend on this at the highest (strategic) level all the time.
Can it happen, yes.
Can you depend on it all the time and make it a main objective, no.
In the scenario that you just put forth, Katherine was desperate and got lucky it worked.
This is not true strategic planing, this is throwing what you have at the wall and hopping it sticks.
The OP original question of "What do you consider to be the smallest organizational unit structure that is actually capable of effectively carrying  out strategic operations at a state/national level? Continental level? Planetary level?" as I see it is asking what would be the smallest organizational unit that can regularly take on and accomplish strategic operations, not one shot flash in the pan moves that have work in the past.
That brings us back to the flea and the dog, just because it at the right time and place helps achieves an strategic objective doesn't make it a strategic unit.
The problem with this argument is all you examples depend on everything going right or complete failure.
A strategic unit has a reliable chance of accomplish the strategic objective or at least putting the planing force in a better position to achieves it.
It is not a one shot All-eggs-in-one-basket attempt that is either wins the day or accomplish nothing.
In military planing a unit is either a strategic unit from the start or it is not, it can't just become one because it happens to accomplish something.

P.S. By definition, attempting to killing an enemy general is not a strategic objective. It is a tactic that can lead to disruption of enemy force making it easier to achieve your strategic objective. As the act of killing the enemy general does not in and of itself bring about the strategic objectives.
Example: Katherine strategic objective was to take the planet. The Rabid Fox by trying to killing George Hasek did not accomplish this goal. nor did it in any way capture the planets major strategic point or destroy its defenders, All typical strategic objective. Al it did was accomplish the tactical goal of disrupting the chain of command. 
« Last Edit: 22 October 2019, 12:26:12 by victor_shaw »

Colt Ward

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Huh?  Katherine's attempted assassination did NOT go right- Hasek lived . . . but the timing WAS intentional and gave the loyalist invaders a temporary advantage because the agent was instructed to hit Hasek right before the invaders were going to ground.  The timing on it was absolutely right and did not depend on complete success, the whole point was to cause Command & Control of the defenders to be in chaos which helped protect the troop landing.  The most risk in a amphibious assault is when the troops are packed on transports right before getting to the beachhead.  The Rabid Fox's attack broke down the chain of command which hampered the defender's response.

IMO, Spec Ops teams are always strategic assets- they may operate tactically but you employ them to take out strategic targets.
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victor_shaw

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Huh?  Katherine's attempted assassination did NOT go right- Hasek lived . . . but the timing WAS intentional and gave the loyalist invaders a temporary advantage because the agent was instructed to hit Hasek right before the invaders were going to ground.  The timing on it was absolutely right and did not depend on complete success, the whole point was to cause Command & Control of the defenders to be in chaos which helped protect the troop landing.  The most risk in a amphibious assault is when the troops are packed on transports right before getting to the beachhead.  The Rabid Fox's attack broke down the chain of command which hampered the defender's response.

IMO, Spec Ops teams are always strategic assets- they may operate tactically but you employ them to take out strategic targets.
Sorry did not follow any of the Katherine stories much.
Thought she was to much of the mustache twirling bad guy from all bad cheesy stories.
Also in your last line you completely contradict yourself.
A unit either acts strategically or tactically, if they are acting tactically, then by definition they are a tactical unit not a strategic one. 
« Last Edit: 22 October 2019, 12:33:00 by victor_shaw »

Colt Ward

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No, because you assign them to strategic targets even if they deal with their targets using small unit tactics.

Tactical operations would be when as a battalion commander I order two companies to hold the line and the reserve to swing out to the left to flank the enemy position.  They are performing a tactical level action.  Sending a assassin to kill a planetary commander, a team to go observe a third party's enclave to make sure they are not getting involved, or sending a different team in to blow the SDS C3 to open the way for a planetary invasion are all units that operate on a tactical level to accomplish a strategic goal.  I would go so far to say that EVERY strategic operation is accomplished on the tactical level.
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Daryk

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Special Operations units and Intelligence assets are practically strategic by definition.

victor_shaw

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No, because you assign them to strategic targets even if they deal with their targets using small unit tactics.

Tactical operations would be when as a battalion commander I order two companies to hold the line and the reserve to swing out to the left to flank the enemy position.  They are performing a tactical level action.  Sending a assassin to kill a planetary commander, a team to go observe a third party's enclave to make sure they are not getting involved, or sending a different team in to blow the SDS C3 to open the way for a planetary invasion are all units that operate on a tactical level to accomplish a strategic goal.  I would go so far to say that EVERY strategic operation is accomplished on the tactical level.

First killing a general/political figure is not in any way a strategic targets.
Just like killing civilians is not a strategic targets.
They both are tactical targets that can be used to achieve the Strategic a goals, but do not in themselves achieve that goal.
A strategic target/objective is a thing or area required to complete the overall objective of the operation.
Examples of this would be drop/airbases, destruction or withdraw of enemy forces, capture of main strongholds/cites.
A strategic unit would be required to not only take but indefinably hold these objective for the duration of the operation or until relieved.
So, no one man or a small group trying to kill some one is not a strategic unit or achieving a strategic objective.

Special Operations units and Intelligence assets are practically strategic by definition.

These units are always tactical units in nature, and by definition.
Neither can readily and with any reliability accomplish strategic objective.
Their tactical use can help the campaign alone, but outside spy thrillers and sci-fi adventures novels , it is rare for them to accomplish anything approaching a strategic level.
That still requires boots on the ground or mutually assured destruction.

  A single nuclear warhead could obliterate a strategic target, the delivery system doesn't matter.

  A handful of civilians flew non-military aircraft into buildings and cost a superpower tens of trillions of dollars over the next two decades.

Nukes are only strategic weapons in their none use. They are a strategic deterrent and when the bomb start flying are not even a good tactical weapon.
War in the long run are fought to achieve something.
In actual combat Nukes are a spiteful "If I can have it you can't have it" weapon.
And as for the aircraft, this did not accomplish any real strategic objective.
In all true military analysis of the attack , it was a terrorist tactic that had the complete opposite effect of making their strategic objective harder to achieve. 

Colt Ward

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Yeah, I gave 3 examples of a Spec Ops troop/team accomplishing strategic goals.

The point of assassinating George Hasek was to disrupt the chain of command- the timing was very intentional as it was to give the best opening for the invading forces to land uncontested.

The second example was the Rabid Foxes team that were set up in a LPOP to watch the Falcon's Nest on Huntress to give TF Serpent a warning if the other Clan on planet was getting involved- a change that would be observed and by its nature change the strategic calculus on planet.

The third example was TF Serpent CO using the Nekekami to blow Huntress SDS to clear the way for the dropships to land for the invasion of the Clan world.

Strategic objectives can have temporary results- the Allies repeatedly tried to bomb the Ploesi oilfields in WWII (knew a B-24 tail gunner that went on some of those raids) to put a restriction on the fuel use (mobility) of German forces.  The point of such a objective is that while it may give you a temporary advantage, its a objective you can accomplish that you can leverage into a advantage somewhere else.

Spec Ops forces operate tactically but they are a strategic weapon and are not under the purview of a line (CO, BN, BDE) commander in most situations- IF they are, then they have been assigned by much higher to execute a operation to augment the line unit's capabilities.  In fact, the organizational structure in most countries puts them on the level of a strategic weapon.  To go back to the BTU example for George Hasek, the invading general (Zampreis?) did not assign the Rabid Fox assassin to take out the Duke- he had no confirmation, but the instance for meeting the timetable meant he knew SOMETHING was happening.  Instead, the Rabid Fox assassin was ordered into action as part of the strategic plan set up on New Avalon to meet one of the strategic objective (disrupt/neutralize Command & Control of defenders) as part of Katherine's larger strategic directive to remove the 'neutral' Hasek from play.  A tactical attempt to take out the Command & Control?  One of the loyalist generals set up a diversionary attack to air drop a Infiltrator Mk II battalion on one of the entrances to the underground HQ facility that controlled the defenses of the planet.
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victor_shaw

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Yeah, I gave 3 examples of a Spec Ops troop/team accomplishing strategic goals.

The point of assassinating George Hasek was to disrupt the chain of command- the timing was very intentional as it was to give the best opening for the invading forces to land uncontested.

The second example was the Rabid Foxes team that were set up in a LPOP to watch the Falcon's Nest on Huntress to give TF Serpent a warning if the other Clan on planet was getting involved- a change that would be observed and by its nature change the strategic calculus on planet.

The third example was TF Serpent CO using the Nekekami to blow Huntress SDS to clear the way for the dropships to land for the invasion of the Clan world.

Strategic objectives can have temporary results- the Allies repeatedly tried to bomb the Ploesi oilfields in WWII (knew a B-24 tail gunner that went on some of those raids) to put a restriction on the fuel use (mobility) of German forces.  The point of such a objective is that while it may give you a temporary advantage, its a objective you can accomplish that you can leverage into a advantage somewhere else.

Spec Ops forces operate tactically but they are a strategic weapon and are not under the purview of a line (CO, BN, BDE) commander in most situations- IF they are, then they have been assigned by much higher to execute a operation to augment the line unit's capabilities.  In fact, the organizational structure in most countries puts them on the level of a strategic weapon.  To go back to the BTU example for George Hasek, the invading general (Zampreis?) did not assign the Rabid Fox assassin to take out the Duke- he had no confirmation, but the instance for meeting the timetable meant he knew SOMETHING was happening.  Instead, the Rabid Fox assassin was ordered into action as part of the strategic plan set up on New Avalon to meet one of the strategic objective (disrupt/neutralize Command & Control of defenders) as part of Katherine's larger strategic directive to remove the 'neutral' Hasek from play.  A tactical attempt to take out the Command & Control?  One of the loyalist generals set up a diversionary attack to air drop a Infiltrator Mk II battalion on one of the entrances to the underground HQ facility that controlled the defenses of the planet.

This by definition is a tactic.
Who an what they work for or under doesn't any any way determine if they are a strategic or tactical unit.

victor_shaw

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Overall we are arguing over the definitions of strategy and tactics, so I don't see this going anywhere.
For that reason I am going to drop it and move on since you are not going to change my mind and I am not going to change yours.

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I would include some LAMs in whatever force I sent. Their mobility allows them to strike at multiple places quickly and tie up the defenders.