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Subject: Ammunition rss

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Confusion Under Fire
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Much has been wrote about ammunition, its capabilities, the number of rounds fired, production etc. However not much seems to of been written about the distribution especially at the lower levels, Battalions and Platoons. In the movies I have seen it seems like a free for all where when ammo distribution occurs if your at a particular place at a particular time then you take whatever is available. I am sure there must be a much organised method of ammo distribution than that?

Any tactical games where ammo distribution plays a role?
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Les Haskell
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Advanced Squad Leader has rules for Plentiful and Low Ammunition, but those are more of an effect in the scope of a scenario. Roads to Gettysburg has you keep track of ammo in the campaign game and that can become a concern, but the game is operational level. The only tactical game I can think of with ammunition tracking and an ammunition wagon is the Isandhlwana battle in Soldiers of the Queen: Battles at Isandhlwana and Omdurman.
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mochara c
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Advanced Tobruk System allows variable availability of "special" ammo, such as HEAT, APCR and, in some cases, even smoke shells. The most recent games have coloured indicators on the counters to denote the probability of that particular shell being on hand.
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Greg S
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If memory serves me right (this is 30 years ago....), I recall that in the morning, after "stand to", and after chow, we would all do an ammo check. If you were low, you would amble over to the TOC (tactical ops center) and obtain more ammo.

Basically, for your personal weapon you would carry the capacity of your ammo pouches (4 magazines of 20/30 rounds each), unless given instructions to carry more.

And EVERYONE carried extra ammo for the SAW.

I'm sure this procedure changes according to mission and proximity to the enemy.

As far as portraying this in a game, I don't see it being practical unless you are playing a multi-day scenario; and even at that it would be a pretty dreary procedure to have to carry out.
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Michael Dorosh
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whatambush wrote:
Much has been wrote about ammunition, its capabilities, the number of rounds fired, production etc. However not much seems to of been written about the distribution especially at the lower levels, Battalions and Platoons.


There are a number of threads where this has been discussed in the past.

Quote:
In the movies I have seen it seems like a free for all where when ammo distribution occurs if your at a particular place at a particular time then you take whatever is available.


Ammunition distribution was actually a plot point in the John Wayne movie "Sands of Iwo Jima." A Marine goes back for ammunition during the Tarawa landings, finds the mortarmen making coffee and stops for a cup. By the time he gets the bandoliers back to his rifle squad, they've been forced to fight hand-to-hand.

Quote:
I am sure there must be a much organised method of ammo distribution than that?

Any tactical games where ammo distribution plays a role?


The answer to these two is inter-related. I presume you're talking about Second World War ground (infantry) combat.

A standard infantry company was composed of three or four rifle platoons with a company headquarters. The HQ would have a company commander and a senior NCO - First Sergeant in the U.S., Company Sergeant Major in the Commonwealth and Hauptfeldwebel in the German Army. In the latter two, that position was an appointment, not a rank. The Company Sergeant Major in the British arm(ies), for example, was responsible for discipline and deportment, as well as the handling of ammunition, rations and prisoners. However, there was also a Company Quartermaster Sergeant who was responsible for the actual logistics of handling ammunition, rations and other supplies. There were a small number of storesmen and drivers to assist the CSM/CQMS. Note also that at the battalion level, in the British example, there was an RSM and RQMS. (I'm not aware of a German senior NCO at the battalion level equal to a regimental sergeant major.)

At the company level, whatever they were called in the various armies, the sergeant major/first sergeant and the supply sergeant were responsible for keeping the company running, including during a battle. They would set up supply points, and ensure that the company knew where to send runners back for additional grendades, bandoliers, boxes of machine gun ammo, etc. The regimental supply staff was responsible for setting up supply dumps, petrol dumps, salvage, etc. At the brigade/regimental level, the ordnance/service corps services were responsible for supplying ammunition to the battalions, which meant they had to receive it from the division/corps, inventory it, etc. etc.

The first sergeant/CSM and supply sergeant/CQMS generally took no part in the fighting - they kept the troops supplied. That was their job. They might run around the battlefield in a Universal Carrier, jeep, motorcycle, etc. if available and if terrain permitted. They would help evacuate wounded where possible. They'd bring water up - a precious commodity, and in NW Europe, each infantry battalion had its own water purification section. Each infantry battalion of 800 men had about 500 men in the rifle companies and support company, the rest were tradesmen - sanitary men, cooks, truck drivers, a cobbler, armourer, etc. They didn't see the enemy, as IIRC they remained in "A" Echelon.

So the question of whether this is represented in games is sometimes raised. The answer is that it usually operated seamlessly. You could put a CQMS counter in an ASL scenario and make him run back and forth from an ammo dump to the front, but there would be little value in it. There may be some anecdotal references to units running low on ammunition but I don't know that the system broke down all that often. In cases where it did, the Low Ammunition rules that ASL has seems to cover the effects much more reasonably - given the lack of hidden movement in most games, you'd just get into an ahistorical game of "shoot the supply sergeant" which in real life just never happened. And most of the time, you'd just be doing boring resupply runs for no added value.
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Michael Dorosh
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essayons7 wrote:
If memory serves me right (this is 30 years ago....), I recall that in the morning, after "stand to", and after chow, we would all do an ammo check. If you were low, you would amble over to the TOC (tactical ops center) and obtain more ammo.

Basically, for your personal weapon you would carry the capacity of your ammo pouches (4 magazines of 20/30 rounds each), unless given instructions to carry more.

And EVERYONE carried extra ammo for the SAW.


This was not different than the basic procedure carried out during the Second World War. Standard ammo load for a British infantryman was 50 rounds for the Lee Enfield, plus every man carried 4 Bren gun magazines. When the Bren gunner and his Number 2 ran out, they got more from the other men in the section.

On my basic training - about the same time frame you are remembering - we did casualty and ammo checks as required, i.e. if clearing a trace and making contact, immediately on clearing a position, we reported to our section commander on how many magazines we used. The CQMS followed behind, but this was in the days of "mechanized infantry." I had occasion to compare our basic infantry manual at that time (I think dated 1982) to the 1937 version and my memory was that many of the sections had not changed much.
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Seth Owen
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ammo resupply is a basic task that should be invisible to players. Unless cut off, or involved in an exceptionally long firefight or belonging to poorly trained or irregular troops ammo should never run out in most tactical battle games.
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Ammunition distribution was actually a plot point in the John Wayne movie "Sands of Iwo Jima." A Marine goes back for ammunition during the Tarawa landings, finds the mortarmen making coffee and stops for a cup. By the time he gets the bandoliers back to his rifle squad, they've been forced to fight hand-to-hand.


Maybe this is a question of appropriate scale.

For example, in the Operational Combat Series, for 1T the Marines would get coffee and rifle ammunition, so everybody wins.
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Andrew N
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In Civil War, Brigade (CWB) Series games units can run low on ammunition and then get resupplied by tracing paths to supply wagon units. I think the old Great Battles of the American Civil War also uses a simple ammo supply system.
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Mike Whittemore
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In Fields of Fire, ammo is tracked for support weapons (mortars, MGs, etc.). It can run out pretty quick. Random events sometimes have battalion HQ send additional ammo - it collects in your staging area and you typically have the company staff sergeant or another leader distribute it with a jeep.
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MikeWhit wrote:
In Fields of Fire, ammo is tracked for support weapons (mortars, MGs, etc.). It can run out pretty quick. Random events sometimes have battalion HQ send additional ammo - it collects in your staging area and you typically have the company staff sergeant or another leader distribute it with a jeep.


Hmm. Reminds me of a WWII vet on my in-laws' side. In brief, he earned the Bronze Star delivering much-needed ammo in the Bulge.
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Ground Pounder
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MikeWhit wrote:
In Fields of Fire, ammo is tracked for support weapons (mortars, MGs, etc.). It can run out pretty quick. Random events sometimes have battalion HQ send additional ammo - it collects in your staging area and you typically have the company staff sergeant or another leader distribute it with a jeep.


Assault: Tactical Combat in Europe – 1985 also tracks ammo by unit except for small arms ammo, IIRC. This is taken down to the level of which type of how much of which types of ammo each unit. For an M1 Abrams platoon, there are quite a few ammo types for the main gun (I think APFSDS was the one with the longest acronym, for armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot).

Maybe this was part of my subconscious attraction to the game, since I was serving in an ammo unit in the Army Reserve at about the time I picked up the game . . .
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Jason Cawley
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Seth Owen remarks that ammo should never run out in a tactical firefight. It is certainly true that typical ammo rations of small arms ammo were meant to last a week, or sometimes 2 to a week.

What most tactical games fail to show accurately is how rare reasonable firing opportunities actually were and how little firing went on. Units are expected to remain in mutual sight of each other blazing away and trying to get effective hits for turns on end, with their firepower calibrated across multiple firing instances. And there is no doubt whatever that if the men actually fired that often and that long, they would run dry and run dry very fast.

The other paradoxical fact is that hits per shot are still in the basement, proving that most firing happened without a clearly visible and exposed target. The ammo supply issued to riflemen sufficed to shoot down the entire enemy army in less than a week if the rounds were actually fired with a hit chance in the few percent range. Ergo, the average hit chance was lower than that.

So we have both men firing less often and hitting less often anyway.

Then tactical gamers and designers expect rate of fire to directly cause "firepower" - when all the evidence from ammo and outcomes is that firing time was not scarce at all and was not actually used. Being able to throw bullets faster doesn't mean throwing more bullets if you aren't using the time for even the lower rate of fire weapons. They also don't get any lighter, and up at the pointy end the ammo supply limit is set by man packing the last mile or two to the front line positions, and is thus set by weight.

What does rate of fire actually give, then? The answer is, a greater ability to concentrate the periods of fire in time, to coincide with the periods of greatest enemy exposure. That's all it gets you. And you get that at a cost in per shot accuracy compared to carefully aiming a bolt action rifle.

Lots of people are deeply confused about this whole subject. They get their intuitions of what ought to happen, how often, with what average effect etc from their imagination, without cross checking those imaginary norms with actual data, and falsifying the predictions and hypotheses that imply outcomes that are not in fact observed.

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Confusion Under Fire
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JasonC wrote:
Seth Owen remarks that ammo should never run out in a tactical firefight. It is certainly true that typical ammo rations of small arms ammo were meant to last a week, or sometimes 2 to a week.

What most tactical games fail to show accurately is how rare reasonable firing opportunities actually were and how little firing went on. Units are expected to remain in mutual sight of each other blazing away and trying to get effective hits for turns on end, with their firepower calibrated across multiple firing instances. And there is no doubt whatever that if the men actually fired that often and that long, they would run dry and run dry very fast.

The other paradoxical fact is that hits per shot are still in the basement, proving that most firing happened without a clearly visible and exposed target. The ammo supply issued to riflemen sufficed to shoot down the entire enemy army in less than a week if the rounds were actually fired with a hit chance in the few percent range. Ergo, the average hit chance was lower than that.

So we have both men firing less often and hitting less often anyway.

Then tactical gamers and designers expect rate of fire to directly cause "firepower" - when all the evidence from ammo and outcomes is that firing time was not scarce at all and was not actually used. Being able to throw bullets faster doesn't mean throwing more bullets if you aren't using the time for even the lower rate of fire weapons. They also don't get any lighter, and up at the pointy end the ammo supply limit is set by man packing the last mile or two to the front line positions, and is thus set by weight.

What does rate of fire actually give, then? The answer is, a greater ability to concentrate the periods of fire in time, to coincide with the periods of greatest enemy exposure. That's all it gets you. And you get that at a cost in per shot accuracy compared to carefully aiming a bolt action rifle.

Lots of people are deeply confused about this whole subject. They get their intuitions of what ought to happen, how often, with what average effect etc from their imagination, without cross checking those imaginary norms with actual data, and falsifying the predictions and hypotheses that imply outcomes that are not in fact observed.



Great post Jason,
I should of started my original post by saying this is something that has irked away at me for years, the real facts of ammo distribution. I didn't realise that it happened so rarely 1 to 2 weeks. I added the game question mainly because we are on a gaming site and it would of been interesting to see if any games have a rule or scenario based around ammo distribution. I realise having a rule to have one unit running around the map distributing ammo as both boring and wrongly being targeted.
I agree with what you say and prefer rules where damage between units in cover should be minimal if any at all. Units in the open should pay the price!
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marc lecours
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I have mentioned in previous threads, that in WWII,over 100 000 bullets were fired per casualty. Basically a lot of bullets were wasted. A unit that was running low on ammunition would just shoot less. Instead of shooting with a 0,0001% chance of hitting the enemy, they could wait until the odds were 1% or some such number.

In board games we risk our units much more than in a real war. We put units suicidally close to one another during firefights. In a real war situation, I can't imagine myself raising my head out of a hole if the bullets are flying. When the enemy fires, I duck until the enemy gets tired of shooting, then its our turn to fire and let the enemy duck in their holes and hiding places. When your ammunition gets low, you stop shooting until the enemy soldiers climb out of their hiding places.
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Michael Dorosh
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rubberchicken wrote:
I have mentioned in previous threads, that in WWII,over 100 000 bullets were fired per casualty. Basically a lot of bullets were wasted.


Suppressing enemy soldiers isn't a waste, I would suggest it is a necessity.

Even for D-Day, the planners realized that neutralizing fire was the objective, since destroying the thick bunkers on the beach would have been impossible. They therefore built as many small vessels as they could, capable of accompanying the landing craft and shooting at the Germans - not to destroy their emplacements, but to keep them ducking and away from their weapons during the crucial moments of the landings when Allied soldiers were exposed.

Likewise, expecting every bullet of every rifle to hit its target is simply not a realistic goal. Shakespeare may have thought that "sound and fury" signified nothing, but on the battlefield, it achieved the goal of keeping the enemy's head down while you gained ground or worked up on his flanks.

For example, "effective fire" was defined to me as bullet splashes on the ground in my immediate vicinity. Our basic training instructors told us we were not to take cover, abandon an advance, etc. unless under "effective fire." That didn't mean bullets striking our bodies, but bullets striking near by. In other words, even bullets that didn't hit us weren't "wasted" if they were compelling us to abandon other activities. They weren't just for causing casualties.
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Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
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In Zvezda's WWII Tactical game World War II: Barbarossa 1941, ammunition is a factor for each unit. And there are units in the game that can offer resupply.

The way most wargames operate (even the tactical ones), keeping track of ammunition is an odious task that sucks all the fun out of a game. Zvezda's game approaches tactical gaming from a different, orders-based standpoint (marking a desired order on a unit card). Unit density is fairly low and the rules for ammunition make its supply a part of the game. It's an important thing to have and you can control how much of it your units use when engaging in combat.

That game's particular system works better with more players at the table. There's a lot of work for two people in a scenario. Get four or more around the table to play the same scenario and things pick up.

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