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Posted on Apr 16, 2004 in Stuff We Like

Rear Area Security in the Operational Art of War

By Mark Dabbs

Light flak battalions, minor allied formations, armored engineers, and other assorted minor units (Ostlegionen) are also good security formations and supplements. Regular and ferry engineers should be very sparingly considered for use in containment. HQ’s, rail engineers, armored trains, riverine, and artillery, by themselves, should never be considered for containment duty. They may augment other forces in containment or garrison duty, but minimizing their exposure to direct combat is essential for the continued long-term stability of supply and combat support.

Enemy partisans are not worth having drawn out battles or failed proficiency checks in the early portion of a turn. First objective is always containment. If you can’t be guaranteed of eliminating it, at the very least insure that it has limited movement options available (1 or 2 hex movement, max). This can be accomplished by three units in a triangle — or if abutted against a major escarpment, alpine, or super river hex perhaps even one or two. Three adjacent containment units can likely bar access to a rail line, bridge, or road.


Attempt the elimination of encircled and pinned partisans toward the end of your turn (last 50%). Occasionally, they can be stubborn enough to draw their attackers into prolonged engagements. Balance the interests of rapid elimination with efficient elimination. Attacking from opposite directions with some artillery support will maximize your results. Call in air support for those out of the way and hard to reach places. If you don’t get it this turn, get it next turn.

One additional use of security forces is to create fortified positions for front line units to fall back to when you are clearly on the defensive. The closer you are able to bring the fortification level of an area to 100%, the more likely your forces will be able to achieve "entrenched status" the first time they dig in, making "fortified status" guaranteed in the second turn.

V. The End Game

Victory Points rarely matter until the end of the game, a point that is vital to remember. During the beginning and middle of a scenario, you are not obligated to defend a position you cannot reasonably hold, though such may be useful in delaying an enemy’s advance. The single greatest threat to rear area security is a breach of the front line. This, unfortunately, is well beyond the scope of this article, except for a few brief points.

Your forces behind the front serve two roles: as security and as reserves. Never leave your ports and beaches ungarrisoned, unless you move last on the last turn. All other units are more or less free for forward deployment in the last 10% of the game. If there is a sudden death victory objective and your opponent has airborne units yet to be employed garrison that objective heavily. Garrisons are appropriately retained and reinforced in other high VP objective areas. At this point in the game though, odds are higher that the real situations will be on or near the front lines. In this, your dedication and frugality with your security forces should pay a handsome dividend — fresh security divisions, engineers, military police coupled with light flak, and other light units can do wonders on a short-term basis in patching a disrupted front line, a turned flank, or any number of other threats. Your reserves will also fair considerably better against offensive activity if you have kept your headquarters and artillery units intact.

Target Priorities:

  1. Air Assets within range of artillery or naval bombardment.
  2. Adjacent unprotected Rail Engineers.
  3. Adjacent unprotected Headquarters.
  4. Adjacent unprotected Artillery.
  5. Overextended armor/mechanized forces.
  6. Any unit outside the range of supporting artillery
  7. Everything else.

Employ your units according to the jobs they do best.

Keep your command and support squads out of the front. Clerks giving a T-34 a paper cut will not help you. Cooks throwing beans at JS-II’s will not help you. Keep your command squads out of the front. General officers with pistols, um…are more likely to obstruct friendly zones of fire and make nearby friendly forces nervous by presenting a high profile target of opportunity. Lose command and control and you will be in trouble.

(Click to enlarge)

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