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2021 CO2 Game Supply Mechanics Discussion (content moved from "For the players: is the game playable?")

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In the interest of cataloging comments for future reference supporting possible game modifications, I've moved the discussion of supply issues from the "For the players: is the game playable?" to this thread.

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GoodGuy
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#15
Very interesting discussion.

It's understandable that - with the supply flow being abstracted - some details aren't on the cards.

In some armies, Bns had to draw from (the very small) divisional depots, for instance. In the German army, divisional depots never had a fixed place, and not a fully-fledged supply vehicle pool, either. The Division could only store the amount of supplies that was needed to equip the frontline units with the first loadout (before going into combat). The Corp was not involved in the (re)supply process at all.
The Army (unit) set up and maintained fuel depots in each division's AO, which means that it pushed fuel supplies to the divisional area of operations.
For food/water supplies - in non-motorized units, the Bn HQs combined the Coys' supply columns no. 1 (one horse-drawn vehicle) of each company and sent them to retreive and distribute food/water supplies. The Coys' supply columns no. 2 (one 3-ton truck and 1 Krad per Coy) were usually employed/combined by the Regiment and used to retreive and distribute ammo to the Bns.
So food was handled slowly and ammo was shipped double time, if trucks were available/combined, basically

An artillery regiment didn't have supply columns, as each of its Bns had their own columns: a light artillery Bn had 1 light supply column (motorized, in some units partially horse-drawn) with a total capacity of 36 tons, heavy arty Bns had 1 light supply column (motorized, 28 tons total capacity) in each battery, IIRC.

Ammunition supply chain: the industry delivered the ammo to the Wehrmacht's ammunition institutes. Ammunition was often delivered separated (safety measure), so the institutes then had to assemble the parts. The institutes also served as QA entities, so they also verified functionality/quality and adherence to production standards. The ammunition was then transported (train cars) to the ammo depots of the Army (unit). These deliveries were directly hauled to district depots near the divisions in exceptional cases, only.
Usually, the supply columns of the Army or the Division would then draw ammo supplies from the Army ammo depot and haul them to the divisional issuing point.
The light supply columns of the regiments/of independent Bns then drew the ammo for their subordinated units, and delivered the ammo supplies either to the fire bases of the artillery batteries or to the frontline units' ammo supply points. Combat vehicles could pick up ammo supplies, ammunition carriers (as in men) picked up ammunition for the infantry (at the frontlines), at these points.
If the frontline conditions allowed for direct supply runs, supply vehicles were sent right to the frontline.

The US Army used well defined procedures as well, which can be checked in the particular field manuals. Jim pointed to a number of quite interesting FM-manuals, in the past.

The Germans used a wide range of vehicles to deliver ammo to frontline (trench) units, they converted/used a number of tankettes and ammunition carriers (mostly of French/Belgian, British and German make) to save precious trucks and to be able to cover the last say 200 to 600 meters under combat conditions. They even modded such vehicles, so that ammunition could be dumped into trenches and strongpoints under moderate/heavy small arms fire by using a handle from inside a carrier (pretty much like in a lorry), where then the cargo bed could be raised and where the ammo then just slid down into the trench, for instance. This regime reduced manual work and troop losses.
British units used bren carriers, converted Vickers tankettes or similar vehicles for such jobs, afaik.

That said, it's quite clear that it'd be quite a job to render such details.
On the other hand, and with the existing system, you have a situation where trucks are sent into combat, technically.
It is true that say the Russians and the Germans lost huge amounts (relative to their total amount of trucks produced/captured/received) of transport/supply vehicles, but it's also a fact that a large amount of these supply columns were destroyed by situational fire, eg. unexpected enemy advances, air raids, artillery interdiction fire (accurate Allied fire was rather rare, at least until autumn 1944) etc., or by planned interdiction/S&D missions - performed by fast motorized units or by partisan units forming raid parties, and not by single enemy units occupying single supply routes.

Generally, the several armies, especially the Germans, tried to avoid sending precious cargo space into combat zones.
The German Army lost quite an amount of supply trucks through attrition (wear & tear, breakdowns) in 1941- when they had to cover huge gaps (large distances that had to be covered with truck transports because the Russian railway lines had to be converted, first, the transport pool used for this extra job - in the main - comprised of a huge amount of Allied trucks captured in 1940), but also some amount during their onslaught in France in 1940, already, with another huge loss of cargo space during the Russian counterattack near Moscow in December 1941 and in the Stalingrad pocket, means through enemy action, of course. The Germans never managed to replace the loss of those captured vehicles and the subsequent loss of trucks when the Russians started their counterattack near Moscow, their production output was too low, production and assembly of truck parts were too slow.

So, except for unexpected enemy actvities (counterattacks, raids, etc.), supply units tried to avoid the frontlines (especially the horse-drawn ones) wherever possible. Yet, in the game, everybody and his mom seem to be eager to bring their vehicles to the (combat) party. If you investigate ingame and try to find out who's sitting on your supply route, you can very well dash into remote woods and past elevations off-route, without seeing any enemy nearby. It feels like enemy units resting 1 or 2 squares away from your supply route are destroying a vital percentage of your supply trucks, even tho they didn't even move for some say 12 hrs. Now, I may be wrong here, but that's how the system felt at times.

Another detail: with the details about the German supply regime, it is quite obvious that putting the transport pool into a giant base attached to say a Division doesn't do the historical regime justice.
Basically, if say 2 Coys lost their supply truck elements, then the ammo supply level of the sister Coy was affected, too. The regimental officer in charge of the combined supply columns no. II (from the Coys) then either had to spread the ammo evenly (so that all attached Bns received less than the required ammo deliveries) by using the remaining truck, or the Coys' food supply elements (reminder: horse-drawn) would have had to fill the lost trucks' (2) roles and draw ammo from the distribution point, until replacements for the trucks could be acquired.
With the latter option, such Coys would have been undersupplied ammo-wise in combat situations due to the low speed of the horse-drawn vehicles, for the time being, because the pretty small Bn column could only support the Bn HQ.
Since the Coys' food supply columns were combined and controlled by the Bns, the Bn officer (or the division's quartermaster) in charge of the supplies could also opt for using parts (or the whole) of the food supply columns to haul ammo to the Coys, but then the food supply of all subordinated units would have been severely affected, of course.
In the game, the emergency supply runs seem to counter/rule out such historical effects/outcomes, partially at least, which leads to somewhat unrealistic results, imho.

In any case, the game's current supply system doesn't represent historical German or US supply regimes, and since supply units are not rendered the actual cargo pool losses are definetely kind of off-kilter, imho, which means they appear too high.
 
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In the interest of cataloging comments for future reference supporting possible game modifications, I've moved the discussion of supply issues from the "For the players: is the game playable?" to this thread.

==========



GoodGuy
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#15
Very interesting discussion.

It's understandable that - with the supply flow being abstracted - some details aren't on the cards.
I'll attempt to look at your points from the standpoint of how the abstraction addresses them
Goodguy:
In some armies, Bns had to draw from (the very small) divisional depots, for instance. In the German army, divisional depots never had a fixed place, and not a fully-fledged supply vehicle pool, either. The Division could only store the amount of supplies that was needed to equip the frontline units with the first loadout (before going into combat). The Corp was not involved in the (re)supply process at all.
The Army (unit) set up and maintained fuel depots in each division's AO, which means that it pushed fuel supplies to the divisional area of operations.
. . .

From a developer's standpoint, the circumstance of available German army divisional supplies is addressed in the game by defining initial supply levels (initial on hand percentage of daily needs) and modeled as part of the throughput in the SEPs (percentage of deployed force(s) daily needs arriving through the SEP).

At least by current US Army doctrine, the Corps and above supply operations could emulated at the SEP rather than through supply storage points administered at higher echelon command units deployed on the map.

The fuel depots identified at each division AO generally parallels the regimental "base" designed into the game, at least by US Army WWII doctrine, there were three to four "fuel dumps" per division and in general, there are three or four regiments and / or brigades per division.

There is a "push / pull" supply system embedded in the game, but it's defined as on-map pull (from base to base or base to unit) and push from the SEP onto the map.

Goodguy:

An artillery regiment didn't have supply columns, as each of its Bns had their own columns: a light artillery Bn had 1 light supply column (motorized, in some units partially horse-drawn) with a total capacity of 36 tons, heavy arty Bns had 1 light supply column (motorized, 28 tons total capacity) in each battery, IIRC.

Ammunition supply chain: the industry delivered the ammo to the Wehrmacht's ammunition institutes. Ammunition was often delivered separated (safety measure), so the institutes then had to assemble the parts. The institutes also served as QA entities, so they also verified functionality/quality and adherence to production standards. The ammunition was then transported (train cars) to the ammo depots of the Army (unit). These deliveries were directly hauled to district depots near the divisions in exceptional cases, only.
. . .
This gets into the game's "base" structure. At the regimental level, all logistics assets below it are aggregated into a "base" located in one area. There had been discussion in the past about having more refined levels of supply "bases" down to the battalion level and maintaining a company HQ as a kind of supply hub, but defining more administrative units to display on the map would only add to game clutter and programming the mechanics of using them would seriously complicate the supply system programming.

The US Army used well defined procedures as well, which can be checked in the particular field manuals. Jim pointed to a number of quite interesting FM-manuals, in the past.

The Germans used a wide range of vehicles to deliver ammo to frontline (trench) units, they converted/used a number of tankettes and ammunition carriers (mostly of French/Belgian, British and German make) to save precious trucks and to be able to cover the last say 200 to 600 meters under combat conditions. . . .
All transport for the game is defined as "trucks," "carts," and / or "manpack" (which probably could be called "foot" since it also includes supplies hauled by beasts of burden which generally moved at the same speed as the handlers could walk).

Losses in supply columns aren't calculated as type of fire combat damage against target types as in how units losses are calculated, but in terms of likelihood of a vehicle being targeted and the possibility of a target taking damage at interdiction. It takes into account light at the time of day, ground cover along the route, proximity to the firing unit or accuracy of observation for artillery interdiction. The damage used to be calculated based on percentage of supply deliveries missed, but was changed to broadcast the percentage in the number of "trucks" to better illustrate the problem. The problem with that is the "trucks" are calculated as an absolute -- if one is "lost" on a delivery, it isn't available for the next. This doesn't model reality because a supply delivery could be "lost" due to a flat tire and the damage asset could return to duty on the next cycle once the tire is changed. As in the "base" issue, calculating partial damage due to maintenance is difficult to program within the resources available to model the emulation (pc-based programming), particularly since the supply is abstracted to start with.
Goodguy:

That said, it's quite clear that it'd be quite a job to render such details.
On the other hand, and with the existing system, you have a situation where trucks are sent into combat, technically.
. . .

Generally, the several armies, especially the Germans, tried to avoid sending precious cargo space into combat zones.
. . .

So, except for unexpected enemy actvities (counterattacks, raids, etc.), supply units tried to avoid the frontlines (especially the horse-drawn ones) wherever possible. Yet, in the game, everybody and his mom seem to be eager to bring their vehicles to the (combat) party. If you investigate ingame and try to find out who's sitting on your supply route, you can very well dash into remote woods and past elevations off-route, without seeing any enemy nearby. It feels like enemy units resting 1 or 2 squares away from your supply route are destroying a vital percentage of your supply trucks, even tho they didn't even move for some say 12 hrs. Now, I may be wrong here, but that's how the system felt at times.

Another detail: with the details about the German supply regime, it is quite obvious that putting the transport pool into a giant base attached to say a Division doesn't do the historical regime justice.
. . .

The game does calculate the percentage of possible deliveries based on a "truck" load. Though not at a company level, the fewer "trucks" available at the regimental level after losses due to interdiction, the slower the response to next cycle supply demands.

This loss calculation gets magnified beyond reality by the number of "emergency" dispatches -- the more frequently the "truck" leaves the supply dump, the more likely it is to be lost, and quite simply, there were neither the number of "trucks" or available personnel needed to drop their mission to perform support services without suffering losses to operational capabilities while those assets were performing "other duties as assigned" in combat.
Goodguy:
In any case, the game's current supply system doesn't represent historical German or US supply regimes, and since supply units are not rendered the actual cargo pool losses are definetely kind of off-kilter, imho, which means they appear too high.
I agree. At some point, I'd like to see the logistics modeled more accurately, but that has to be delayed until other game mechanics are addressed. At this point, the emulation does a pretty good job addressing the broad issues better than other games I've encountered.
 

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Well, if the game could show the Main supply route when I push the supply button, I would know what the main route is to defend. Might even make a command to re-route parts of it when the enemy is on the move.

Now I think both these supply suggestion are impossible due to the abstract nature of the supply engine. If so, just disregard. Purpose is to give the battle-space commander (me) a better picture of the supply net.
 
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Well, if the game could show the Main supply route when I push the supply button, I would know what the main route is to defend. Might even make a command to re-route parts of it when the enemy is on the move.

Now I think both these supply suggestion are impossible due to the abstract nature of the supply engine. If so, just disregard. Purpose is to give the battle-space commander (me) a better picture of the supply net.
From the standpoint of more real time modeling of supply operations, I agree with you. In real life, the role of MPs on the battlefield was to provide security rear area security including posting traffic direction and / or protective detachments along exposed transport corridors behind friendly lines. The placement of those detachments more or less served as waypoints along the main supply route between disbursing sites and combat units being supplied.

So under ideal conditions it's not unrealistic to have those specific "safe" waypoints identified as a guide for likely places to conduct rear area combat patrols.

Obtaining the added information would be balanced by the amount of added programming and increased map clutter that may result from adding the information.
 

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As an observer on the forum I would like to point out that I appreciate the discussion.
 

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I apologize - this isn't a comment on "realism" of supply, but I'd like to stress how I think @jimcarravallah statement is very true in more than one way. He wrote:

If "emergency resupply" were conducted less frequently -- as in only in overwhelming emergencies -- you'd see less transport loss from supply operations because it wouldn't be exposed to enemy fire as frequently and for as long a time as it is now in the game.

In addition to frequency, arguably emergency supply runs are also more dangerous - in my experience (admittedly, a very limited one), unit requesting the emergency supply is in an active engagement under the enemy influence, so it's in fact surprising we don't always lose trucks under those circumstances. In addition to making the threshold harder to reach (which appears the easiest to implement in the sense that no mechanics are altered), something interesting to consider is :
- for HQ to "rotate" units from task reserve (if possible), or for the unit to retreat - that's not a change in supply, but rather in the unit behavior mechanics
- making unplanned supply a player's decision (I say it now, yet it'll likely annoy the hell out of me), perhaps turn off/on as an option?
- delivering supplies to a "safer" place (group HQ?)

I suspect, some of these may have been considered already, and all of the suggestions are certainly flawed, but here they are on the off-chance they are helpful in any way.
 
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I apologize - this isn't a comment on "realism" of supply, but I'd like to stress how I think @jimcarravallah statement is very true in more than one way. He wrote:



In addition to frequency, arguably emergency supply runs are also more dangerous - in my experience (admittedly, a very limited one), unit requesting the emergency supply is in an active engagement under the enemy influence, so it's in fact surprising we don't always lose trucks under those circumstances. In addition to making the threshold harder to reach (which appears the easiest to implement in the sense that no mechanics are altered), something interesting to consider is :
- for HQ to "rotate" units from task reserve (if possible), or for the unit to retreat - that's not a change in supply, but rather in the unit behavior mechanics

The second instance (retreat) is modeled as part of the game, as reduction in supply leads to a loss of unit morale and cohesion, both of which have a threshold value that triggers a retreat.

Though it's not modeled explicitly the rotation takes place as routed / retreated unit rests and gains morale and cohesion sufficient to return it to the battle.

The new attack code also includes some changes to the reserve status for a unit ordered into combat specifying both lead subordinates and reserve components during the movement into combat.

- making unplanned supply a player's decision (I say it now, yet it'll likely annoy the hell out of me), perhaps turn off/on as an option?


I suggested this in the development forum -- making variations of supply operations a game difficulty option much like weather, reinforcement and supply quantities are now.
- delivering supplies to a "safer" place (group HQ?)

This is more difficult to model because lower echelon supply operations are aggregated at the regimental level and above. In part, modeling operations at the battalion and company level would bog down the game while the added off screen background activity was evaluated.

I suggested that the routing be made through lower echelon headquarters (battalion and company) before reaching the demanding unit.


 

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Another suggestion is to make a "smarter" threshold for the emergency. Again, this is based on a very small sample, but I do notice emergency supply requests when a single category of ammunition is getting low. For example:
From what I can see, the difference between the unit requesting supply and one that isn't is HE Bazooka ammo. Arguably, Bazooka's main focus is AT, so there should not be any urgency in this case. If my line of thinking is correct (I may be missing something though), I can think of some suggestions to mitigate the effect, but all of them include additional parameters that are added to weapons/units, so they aren't practical (like designating "essential" weapons/ammo or assigning weights to those when looking at ammo availability).

Not a big deal of course, it's just even with increased threshold for the emergency supply request, it's easy to run out of low-count ammo
 
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Another suggestion is to make a "smarter" threshold for the emergency. Again, this is based on a very small sample, but I do notice emergency supply requests when a single category of ammunition is getting low. For example:
From what I can see, the difference between the unit requesting supply and one that isn't is HE Bazooka ammo. Arguably, Bazooka's main focus is AT, so there should not be any urgency in this case. If my line of thinking is correct (I may be missing something though), I can think of some suggestions to mitigate the effect, but all of them include additional parameters that are added to weapons/units, so they aren't practical (like designating "essential" weapons/ammo or assigning weights to those when looking at ammo availability).

Not a big deal of course, it's just even with increased threshold for the emergency supply request, it's easy to run out of low-count ammo
There are some parameters for generating emergency resupply requests, from game manual pg. 113:

"Emergency requests are generated whenever a unit’s supply level runs below its emergency resupply threshold set at 50% of normal requirements for ammo and fuel and 33% for basics. So if a unit is heavily engaged and its ammunition runs very low it will put in an emergency request. These receive priority for processing."

I believe quantity measure gets applied for "any" class of ammunition rather than all classes of ammunition the unit carries. When the emergency event is triggered, then the unit's status on all classes of supply is evaluated and filled.

I haven't seen information on determining a unit's primary and secondary missions. In line with your thinking, if an infantry unit, whose primary mission is to conduct small arms infantry combat, were to run low on anti-tank rounds -- a secondary mission -- it wouldn't impact the unit's supply status as quickly as running out of rounds for the small arms that allows the unit to conduct its primary mission.
 

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For example:
From what I can see, the difference between the unit requesting supply and one that isn't is HE Bazooka ammo. Arguably, Bazooka's main focus is AT, so there should not be any urgency in this case.

Actually, there was only an experimental HE-frag version of the bazooka round, which consisted of a fragmentation case that provided room for two Mk2 frag grenades (oh yes, hand grenades :jawdrop:). A number of these prototype anti-personnel rounds were given to combat units for testing under combat conditions, but the round neither entered mass production, nor was it ever introduced officially. The numbers given to selected/particular combat units must have been extremely low. With the supply system in place and during a longer battle, the game engine will replace the batch of 22 rounds (C Coy) and 5 rounds (B Coy) over and over, a pretty unrealistic scenario, imho.

Besides producing the regular HEAT rounds, training rounds and modified (lengthened) bazooka HEAT and training rounds, and besides modifying the shape of the tip and the design of the tail fins a few times, the US produced a significant amount of phosphorous ("white phosphor") rounds for the Bazooka, these rounds were actually intendended to be used as smoke rounds, but they also had a significant incendiary effect. Similar to the white phosphor tank and AT gun rounds, they could also blind enemy tank crews, if aimed at optics/view ports.

Afaik, pure HE-frag rounds or dual (HEAT + HE) rounds did only come up with one of the Russian RPG versions (RPG 6 or 7 ?).
The US only introduced the Super Bazooka (just in time for the Korean War) which still didn't have any HE-frag capability. And even later on, (1950s to 1963-ish), Western armies did not have LAW systems with HE frag rounds.
I could imagine that the US M72 LAW (introduced in 1963, iirc) received a HE frag round during the Vietnam war, but I wouldn't bet on it. The swedish Carl-Gustav received an HE round (quite late though, 70s or 80s), the FFV AT4 (introduced in Sweden in 1985) didn't receive HE rounds before the late 1980s.

The complete After Action Report of the 51st Arm Inf Bn HQ (23 August 1944 through 9 May 1945) mentions German units/teams using "bazookas" (ie. : the Panzerbüchse or the Panzerfaust) against US tanks 17+ times, it mentions "bazooka" fire, whenever German HEAT rounds from Panzerbüchse or Panzerfaust weapons were involved.
The use of HE-bazooka rounds against German infantry isn't mentioned anywhere on these 130 pages. If the Bn would have had those experimental rounds at its disposal, it would have a) mentioned their use in one of those AARs and b) rated their efectiveness, imho. The German unit that received the first Panzerbüchse (aka Panzerschreck) prototypes gave a quick evaluation of their pros and cons in a message to higher echelons, and mentioned their use in one or another AAR, iirc. The message survived the war.

The AAR of the 51 Arm Inf Bn:
 
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This is adding insult to the injury :) Not only is it extremely easy to run out of this ammunition type, but it isn't even supposed to be there to begin with! Well, in due time the attention of the dev team would be turned to supply annoyances (one can hope) and then sky is the limit.
Separately, thank you for linking this resource, I somehow managed to never run into it.
 
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This is adding insult to the injury :) Not only is it extremely easy to run out of this ammunition type, but it isn't even supposed to be there to begin with!
The ammunition types are basically allocated based on the scenario designer's research. Though a number of the scenario designers were involved in developing the game engine and baseline Estabs (I believe based on the BFTB baseline), they can operate independently on combat unit design and capabilities, particularly as the design year for the new scenario strays away from the BFTB timeframe or expands on the number and type of combat units included in BFTB.

Well, in due time the attention of the dev team would be turned to supply annoyances (one can hope) and then sky is the limit.
Supply and Maintenance Planning were my civilian employee skills when I worked for the Army. Participating in this game's design intrigued me because it was at the time the only one I encountered that even bothered to consider those issues in modeling combat.

Toward the end of my career, I served as a logistics advisor on a combat modeling effort for the Army, because it (finally) realized that supply and support dynamics affected the battlefield capabilities. I think that effort is continuing, more than 12 years after I retired.

The URL links to a briefing status at one of the last program checkpoint meetings I attended before deciding to retire. You'll note how many charts were used to set the stage so anyone (other than logisticians) would even listen to the logistics discussion. Pretty much that is how the Army views logistics, of course until the bullets begin to fly and the combat troops can't get them replaced quickly enough to keep them flying. The game designers more or less have the same constraint. Commercially, a fantasy football kind of effort focusing on the details of combat (which are fascinating) will sell more with users than a tedious recreation of battlefield dynamics that eats game time to replicate reality.

CO2 at least recognizes it should address aspects of rear area operations that affect combat to give a player a taste of real world command and control considerations.

Separately, thank you for linking this resource, I somehow managed to never run into it.

Glad to find someone who also has an interest in it.



 

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Glad to find someone who also has an interest in it.
Wasn't he referring to the operational documents resource which I linked above?

The URL links to a briefing status at one of the last program checkpoint meetings I attended before deciding to retire. You'll note how many charts were used to set the stage so anyone (other than logisticians) would even listen to the logistics discussion. Pretty much that is how the Army views logistics, of course until the bullets begin to fly and the combat troops can't get them replaced quickly enough to keep them flying. The game designers more or less have the same constraint. Commercially, a fantasy football kind of effort focusing on the details of combat (which are fascinating) will sell more with users than a tedious recreation of battlefield dynamics that eats game time to replicate reality.

Actually, the presentation you linked outlines the core of the FCS (Future Combat systems) program, which didn't just include C2 real-time data down to Coy or even platoon level but also logistics details in and for the supply channels, even down to the exact amount of available spare tires say for a truck or a Humvee.
The program came at a time (1999-ish) when vehicle-born Gigabit (satellite/radio) connections weren't available (at all) and when even a few years later (early to mid-2000s) processors and networks in HQs still struggled to process the current loads (eg. live streams from smaller UAVs, or later on from portable cams on the soldier, eg. during the late Bin Laden raid in 2011).
In 2003, digital radio connections were supposed to be used and a number of units were supposed to transmit positional data (live) in Iraq. The networks and devices used (for data transmission and voice com) were so overloaded, units had to ditch the digital devices and fall back to using analogue radios to maintain the required communication level for C&C. Members of a Supply/Maintenance Coy were ambushed and captured by Saddam's troops, just because their GPS/NAV map didn't contain the ambush site, a village that was just supposed to be a single road with desert left and right - according to the NAV. Overloaded networks and comm channels were pretty common during the war in Iraq, as well as the lack of surveillance data.
At first glance, FCS would have been the solution to overcome such situations.

It turned out that the C2V (=command and control) vehicles designed for the FCS program would have had to process/receive such data loads that the equipment to handle the massive amount of live data would have increased the weight of the armored command vehicles to a level that their actual weights would have exceeded the Army's target weights, though. With the projected final weight, tactical airlift of the vehicles wouldn't have been possible, anymore. Also, the costs for several items on the FCS vehicle/project list would have skyrocketed.
On top of that, the tools (fast satellite links, quad-core CPUs with integrated graphic units, fast [digital] radio data transmission, connection to/accessibility of each and every node in the network, etc.) either weren't available or were still in their infant development stages, even in 2007/2008.
Gates canceled the FCS program in 2009.

Some of the FCS components were kept for a while, eg. the ...
XM156 Class I Unmanned Aerial Vehicle,
the Unattended Ground Sensors
and the XM1216 Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (PackBot).

The Class I - III UAVs were all canceled, eventually, the prototypes tested by the US Army were shelved or destroyed.
The XM156 drones (UAV Class I) were so loud and suffered of various other deficiencies that ground units preferred to use the lightweight RQ-11 Raven ("SUAV").
The Class II UAV was canceled in 2007 already, its projected role subsequently filled by the AAI RQ-7 drone, which was introduced in 2003.
The MULE prototype project was shelved in 2010, the development of its assault vehicle spin-off, the Armed Robotic Vehicle-Assault-Light (ARV-A-L) then earmarked to be part of the BCT modernization program, was stopped in 2011.
Even though the Class IV UAV project was canceled, one developed component actually survived the deletion of the program, in a way, as it made it to the serial stage as Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout, but it is only used by the US Navy and I don't think that there are more than 30 or 35 units, but the Coast Guard shows or showed interest to employ the drone. The FCS version (XM157) was canceled.
The PackBots were actually introduced and even received FLIR cams some time during the last decade, but they are mainly used for EOD, and not for networked surveillance.
The UAG sensors survived the cancellation as well, they can be linked - using wireless ad hoc networks - so they kind of use the big picture's idea (sensor data - means image of intruders and corresponding location/movement data - to be globally shared with the FCS system) of a network of surveillance nodes on a really really small (means local) scale. The sensors were introduced in 2010 as part of the BCT modernization program, but an early commercialized ARL (Army Research Lab) development (OmniSense system) had been introduced in 2005, already.

The requirements and acquisition timelines of the cut-down successor of the ground vehicle component of the FCS, the "Next-Generation Combat Vehicle" program (halted, then renamed OMFV) were changed and the program re-started as late as May 2020. I think the Army narrowed it down to the respective competition entries from Rheinmetall (Lynx, renamed to OMFV Lynx) and General Dynamics (Griffin III). The changed digital designs are supposed to be submitted early in the fiscal year 2022 and the design review will not take place before the second quarter of FY 2024. The final selection will not take place before 2027, according to Jane's.

That said, it's pretty obvious that the presentation from 2008 doesn't reflect how the US Army views logistics and data preparation, anymore.
While it was a neat idea to have a completely transparent live stream of data from the numbers of bullets spent to the amounts of resupply on their way to logistic hubs and then FOBs supporting the units in the ZoA, while - at the same time - getting a complete overview of geographically distributed supply systems, combat units, their orders, their objectives, their locations and their statuses (eg. number of casualties, supply levels, etc.), sensors AND surveillance live feeds via a real-time network, where then the information would be readily presented on-screen (in supply bases, unit HQs, and even in the field in C2Vs or on the inf Coy/platoon level - using laptops), it couldn't be done at the time.
The costs were too high, the benefits (partially) questionable and the technology was not advanced enough to provide a network that 1) can't be jammed and that b) uses robust (ie. protected against ABC) yet fast enough chipsets (and satellite transmissions) able to process the vast amount of data, at the time.

I could imagine that the Army's logistics branch was updated in terms of receiving software/tools and using procedures to get a more transparent/faster overview during the 2010s, maybe even tools which indicate/maintain supply numbers in real-time, similar to commercial ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, as well as tools that can perform advanced predictions/analyzes of supply consumptions and timely deliveries, just like HQs of combat units received software tools and access to live feeds from military surveillance hardware during the last 14 years (high altitude/performance UAVs were introduced in 2007) and like supreme HQs/logistics HQs will surely have the software to simulate battles and the involved units' supply progress by now - to enhance command and control and the logistics, but the initial/actual SoS idea, went down the sewer, imho.
 
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Wasn't he referring to the operational documents resource which I linked above?
Perhaps he read it, but he AFAIK, he was asking about game logistic mechanics, which is what this thread is aimed at discussing.

if you want to get into a discussion of the document you posted, then address his observations from your knowledge of it.


Actually, the presentation you linked outlines the core of the FCS (Future Combat systems) program,
Actually, the briefing was aimed at the topic I addressed, the modeling and simulation of logistics in a wargame -- in this case a training piece I served as an advisor / logistics liaison that was destined to be installed in everything ranging from data storage systems my vehicles, garrison training classrooms, dedicated wargaming training facilities and military command officer advancement training schools.

which didn't just include C2 real-time data down to Coy or even platoon level but also logistics details in and for the supply channels, even down to the exact amount of available spare tires say for a truck or a Humvee.
Yes, I know. I lead the team responsible for the logistics design support and integration of the results from the new tracked vehicles into the system of system concept for support planning ranging from individual soldier responsibilities, through battlefield logistics, up to in theater and overseas (back in the USA) wholesale logistics.

My responsibilities before I was promoted to the tracked vehicle lead logistician's job (rated in the civilian system at a Lieutenant Colonel level -- supporting peer product (vehicle level) managers and as the full bird Colonel product manager's logistics expert) was leading the core team that was integrating anticipated soldier thru vehicle health monitoring into a C3I network supporting everything ranging from a commander determining an individual soldier's health in battle, notifying medical support when that soldier needed care with similar feedback at the vehicle to facilitate calls for maintenance or supply support to tracking and managing supply demands and procurement at the wholesale Army level.

Three people from my vehicle team were eventually hired to fill the role of C3I logistics integrator for the two major tasks (at a civilian level of the program manager I served), lead on the soldier thru vehicle to maintenance system health monitoring aspect and the last one headed the supply and support planning aspect (each at my civilian level).

The program came at a time (1999-ish) when vehicle-born Gigabit (satellite/radio) connections weren't available (at all) and when even a few years later (early to mid-2000s) processors and networks in HQs still struggled to process the current loads (eg. live streams from smaller UAVs, or later on from portable cams on the soldier, eg. during the late Bin Laden raid in 2011).
In 2003, digital radio connections were supposed to be used and a number of units were supposed to transmit positional data (live) in Iraq. The networks and devices used (for data transmission and voice com) were so overloaded, units had to ditch the digital devices and fall back to using analogue radios to maintain the required communication level for C&C. Members of a Supply/Maintenance Coy were ambushed and captured by Saddam's troops, just because their GPS/NAV map didn't contain the ambush site, a village that was just supposed to be a single road with desert left and right - according to the NAV. Overloaded networks and comm channels were pretty common during the war in Iraq, as well as the lack of surveillance data.
At first glance, FCS would have been the solution to overcome such situations.

At that time we were charged with building past the ad hoc gigabit system used in Iraq (which I supported while working for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle system office -- establishing the reputation that got me selected as the fourth logistics person hired for FCS -- by the time I left it numbered 300 from director to technician spread across eight bases in the US).

I was on the ground floor of all the plans you discuss addressing a personal goal to work a research and development project once ARL had proved the principles were useful and technically feasible.
It turned out that the C2V (=command and control) vehicles designed for the FCS program would have had to process/receive such data loads that the equipment to handle the massive amount of live data would have increased the weight of the armored command vehicles to a level that their actual weights would have exceeded the Army's target weights, though. With the projected final weight, tactical airlift of the vehicles wouldn't have been possible, anymore. Also, the costs for several items on the FCS vehicle/project list would have skyrocketed.
On top of that, the tools (fast satellite links, quad-core CPUs with integrated graphic units, fast [digital] radio data transmission, connection to/accessibility of each and every node in the network, etc.) either weren't available or were still in their infant development stages, even in 2007/2008.
Gates canceled the FCS program in 2009.

It turned out all the vehicles had a heavy power burden both to feed and extract information into the C3I "cloud" and conduct their battlefield mission at the same time.

At one point they were planning to build a massive brigade level training garage capable of emulating a war game for a battalion of parked and networked platforms without using fuel. The power estimate to run vehicle electronics for all those vehicles as "training devices" would have required the equivalent of a new nuclear power plant in El Paso.

The training development air heads proposed it to save costs on building training devices -- a cost trade that didn't quite get made.
Some of the FCS components were kept for a while, eg. the ...
XM156 Class I Unmanned Aerial Vehicle,
the Unattended Ground Sensors
and the XM1216 Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (PackBot).

The Class I - III UAVs were all canceled, eventually, the prototypes tested by the US Army were shelved or destroyed.
The XM156 drones (UAV Class I) were so loud and suffered of various other deficiencies that ground units preferred to use the lightweight RQ-11 Raven ("SUAV").
The Class II UAV was canceled in 2007 already, its projected role subsequently filled by the AAI RQ-7 drone, which was introduced in 2003.
The MULE prototype project was shelved in 2010, the development of its assault vehicle spin-off, the Armed Robotic Vehicle-Assault-Light (ARV-A-L) then earmarked to be part of the BCT modernization program, was stopped in 2011.
Even though the Class IV UAV project was canceled, one developed component actually survived the deletion of the program, in a way, as it made it to the serial stage as Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout, but it is only used by the US Navy and I don't think that there are more than 30 or 35 units, but the Coast Guard shows or showed interest to employ the drone. The FCS version (XM157) was canceled.
The PackBots were actually introduced and even received FLIR cams some time during the last decade, but they are mainly used for EOD, and not for networked surveillance.
The UAG sensors survived the cancellation as well, they can be linked - using wireless ad hoc networks - so they kind of use the big picture's idea (sensor data - means image of intruders and corresponding location/movement data - to be globally shared with the FCS system) of a network of surveillance nodes on a really really small (means local) scale. The sensors were introduced in 2010 as part of the BCT modernization program, but an early commercialized ARL (Army Research Lab) development (OmniSense system) had been introduced in 2005, already.

. . .

I could imagine that the Army's logistics branch was updated in terms of receiving software/tools and using procedures to get a more transparent/faster overview during the 2010s, maybe even tools which indicate/maintain supply numbers in real-time, similar to commercial ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, as well as tools that can perform advanced predictions/analyzes of supply consumptions and timely deliveries, just like HQs of combat units received software tools and access to live feeds from military surveillance hardware during the last 14 years (high altitude/performance UAVs were introduced in 2007) and like supreme HQs/logistics HQs will surely have the software to simulate battles and the involved units' supply progress by now - to enhance command and control and the logistics, but the initial/actual SoS idea, went down the sewer, imho.

I don't know. We had a workable life cycle plan to address the issues, but it became highly unaffordable when people started to demand gee whiz solutions before the last gee whiz was completed (see the "training device" discussion above. It got killed before the user said "I need that."). It ran the Research and Development budget where the Army decided it was cheaper to close the program.

That decision came one month after I retired. My last task was here. I retired 5-weeks later:
 

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I don't know. We had a workable life cycle plan to address the issues, but it became highly unaffordable when people started to demand gee whiz solutions before the last gee whiz was completed (see the "training device" discussion above. It got killed before the user said "I need that."). It ran the Research and Development budget where the Army decided it was cheaper to close the program.

That decision came one month after I retired. My last task was here. I retired 5-weeks later:

What I understood and researched back then is that the Army wouldn't have shelved the entire program, since the Army even tried to "sell" a cut-down program, the NGCV program. But it was SecDef Gates who pulled the plug, actually. He thought that the original FCS was a program that would have created an extremely bloated (and expensive) vehicle and surveillance hardware high-tech pool that would not be too useful when fighting terrorism and asymmetric threats which blend in well into civilian environments/urban areas. Maintaining the current arsenal (where many of its items were designed for conventional conflicts and - quite a few of them - then upgraded to also cater for asymmetric threats), life extension programs for hand-picked ground vehicles and airplanes and the procurement of replacements for outdated hardware (eg. the M113) appeared to be the cheaper and smarter approach, obviously.

The Stryker, for instance, was upgraded ("Engineering Change Proposal") after a rather short decision/approval process (approval from ASARC in early 2013), so that the already existing assembly line - which had produced 17 variants based on 2 different hulls since 2002 and which was supposed to be shut down and removed in the mid-2010s - could be used all through 2018 (at the least). This saved costs for rebuilding the complete production line and resulted in the latest Stryker version receiving improved power cooling, space for the Army's communication network, (due the increased weight) a stronger engine and a vital suspension upgrade. The changes provided extra room for future upgrades and reduced the electrical demand on the vehicle's generator.
I think it's a pretty good example of the thought process that must have been behind the decision to do without a large pool of unmanned hardware that is very expensive (procurement and maintenance) and that may not have been able to sufficiently counter asymmetric threats anyways, and to modernize existing equipment instead.

Plus, the Obama administration thought that drone strikes were cheaper and more politically appropriate at the same time, as - in their minds - unmanned and manned aerial strikes could replace or reduce troop contingents (and the corresponding number of casualties) in the particular regions. The constant stream of casualties (Iraq/Afghanistan), Obama's announcement - prior to the elections - that he'd end both campaigns and the aim of his administration to direct funds to domestic civilian projects were vital factors too, imho.
 
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Wasn't he referring to the operational documents resource which I linked above?

Don't think it matters too much in the grand scheme of things, but yes - I am always on the lookout for digitized operational documents from WW2. This particular one had something from 81st Recon Bn that helped me solve a small mystery from a battle of Sidi Bou Zid. Sorry for off-topic.
Perhaps he read it, but he AFAIK, he was asking about game logistic mechanics, which is what this thread is aimed at discussing.

I do appreciate your detailed responses, it certainly helps in understanding how the game works (the manual is excellent, but can't possibly cover everything given the scope of this game ).
 
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Don't think it matters too much in the grand scheme of things, but yes - I am always on the lookout for digitized operational documents from WW2. This particular one had something from 81st Recon Bn that helped me solve a small mystery from a battle of Sidi Bou Zid. Sorry for off-topic.


I do appreciate your detailed responses, it certainly helps in understanding how the game works (the manual is excellent, but can't possibly cover everything given the scope of this game ).
In case you can't tell, I really like this game, and do the best I can to support players with issues from it or to show how the game sometimes has addressed their concerns, though not in the way they notice.
 
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What I understood and researched back then is that the Army wouldn't have shelved the entire program, since the Army even tried to "sell" a cut-down program, the NGCV program. But it was SecDef Gates who pulled the plug, actually. He thought that the original FCS was a program that would have created an extremely bloated (and expensive) vehicle and surveillance hardware high-tech pool that would not be too useful when fighting terrorism and asymmetric threats which blend in well into civilian environments/urban areas. Maintaining the current arsenal (where many of its items were designed for conventional conflicts and - quite a few of them - then upgraded to also cater for asymmetric threats), life extension programs for hand-picked ground vehicles and airplanes and the procurement of replacements for outdated hardware (eg. the M113) appeared to be the cheaper and smarter approach, obviously.

The manned vehicle requirements to be quickly deployable and as lethal as current platforms was aimed at addressing the firefights that sometimes grew from asymmetric combat up to being "first unit on the ground" in full shooting overseas wars.

the goal was to have a force that could at least slow something ranging from Hussein's invasion of Iraq to a ending a guerilla uprising anywhere in the world.

Had the FCS been deployed at the time, I wonder if the Benghazi uprising would have caused as much mayhem if a combat battalion could have been put on the ground within flight time from Ft. Bragg to Libya from the time the uprising started.

Even as we were working the details for the program's preliminary design review Boeing was marketing some of the surveillance / situational awareness and robotic platforms and aircraft to the (then) emerging US Department of Homeland Security for border monitoring and patrolling. It was also looking into a scaled (for power requirements) network concept for legacy US Army equipment.

Much of that has been deployed, though maybe not in the numbers planned.
The Stryker, for instance, was upgraded ("Engineering Change Proposal") after a rather short decision/approval process (approval from ASARC in early 2013), so that the already existing assembly line - which had produced 17 variants based on 2 different hulls since 2002 and which was supposed to be shut down and removed in the mid-2010s - could be used all through 2018 (at the least). This saved costs for rebuilding the complete production line and resulted in the latest Stryker version receiving improved power cooling, space for the Army's communication network, (due the increased weight) a stronger engine and a vital suspension upgrade. The changes provided extra room for future upgrades and reduced the electrical demand on the vehicle's generator.
I think it's a pretty good example of the thought process that must have been behind the decision to do without a large pool of unmanned hardware that is very expensive (procurement and maintenance) and that may not have been able to sufficiently counter asymmetric threats anyways, and to modernize existing equipment instead.
The unmanned hardware remained, but the SoS network control of its operations was abandoned.

The biggest savings came from killing the Manned Ground Vehicle program who's lifecycle support costs dwarfed those of the robotic, aerial and communications sectors. Trying to get our arms around and control the lifecycle sustainment costs was my responsibility. Where the Army balked at continuing was at the engineering and production costs, which were anywhere from 5-20 percent of the lifecycle support cost burden.

Plus, the Obama administration thought that drone strikes were cheaper and more politically appropriate at the same time, as - in their minds - unmanned and manned aerial strikes could replace or reduce troop contingents (and the corresponding number of casualties) in the particular regions. The constant stream of casualties (Iraq/Afghanistan), Obama's announcement - prior to the elections - that he'd end both campaigns and the aim of his administration to direct funds to domestic civilian projects were vital factors too, imho.
 
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