July 04, 2017

Rifle Platoon Leader – PLATOON DEFENSE Part 2 - Fundamentals

Make initial contact with the smallest force possible.
FM 3-90 Tactics
A defensive operation can occur in any battle, whether you are on the offense or not. A local counterattack by a defender when you are advancing could force you to go defensive with at least a part of your force. Or you could be the defender in a scenario, in this case you might have offensive or defensive operations occurring simultaneously.

There are three main types of defensive operations:
  • Hasty Defense 
  • Deliberate Defense 
  • Delay/Withdrawal
Defensive operations may be necessary in order to:
  • Deny the enemy the use of a piece of terrain or an area (i.e. a hilltop, a woodline, or a village) 
  • Buy time to organize for other operations 
  • Hold an area (flank or key terrain) with a small element to allow more important operations to occur in other parts of the battlefield 
  • Force the enemy to concentrate against you, thus weakening him elsewhere 
  • Counter an unexpected move or action from your opponent 
  • Attrit or fix the enemy in preparation for moving to offensive operations 
  • Assemble and prepare to start offensive operations 
  • Regain your breath - especially useful when the battle seems to be getting away from you and you need to buy time to think

Fundamentals of the Defense


As a defender you must perform a thorough METT-T analysis.  Ensure you read my post on that topic fully and understand the basics.  I cannot emphasize enough the importance of knowing the terrain, understanding your force, and having a good idea of the enemy’s capabilities and goals  in being successful in Combat Mission, this is especially true when on the defensive.

Defensive Operations

Hasty Defense - most of the time in Combat Mission we are conducting a hasty defense.  If you have to seize and hold a piece of key terrain, then that is an example of a hasty defense.  Anytime you are dropping a formation into a temporary defensive posture (after a movement, or in reaction to enemy activity) during a battle, you are conducting a hasty defense.  

Deliberate Defense - if you are playing a defense scenario, then you are usually conducting a deliberate defense.  The deliberate defense normally has engineer works (foxholes, bunkers, mines, etc.) and mutually supporting positions.  Personally I find this type of action to be very limiting and it is the easiest to be successful against for an attacker as he can identify strong points and take them down one at a time.  For this type of defense to work the commander MUST maintain a mobile reserve to enable him to surprise the attacker with local counter-attacks or maybe even a spoiling attack.

Delay - The delay usually is made up of subsequent hasty or deliberate defensive positions and is used to slow or attrit an enemy to the point where he cannot continue offensive operations.  This is actually my preferred method of defending, and it can be devastating to an attacker, but it must be well thought out with pre-identified fall back positions, and subsequent lines of defense pre-positioned along the withdrawal routes.

Depth on the Defense - NEVER put the majority of your combat power in the forward positions or on the first line of defense.  

Plan a defense with successive defensive lines that you can fall back to and provide each line of defense with enough combat power to make it viable.

Example showing successive lines of defense

Intelligence - Whether on the offense or the defense it is paramount that you identify the enemy units, formations, and axes of movement. This information will be a combat multiplier that you can use to good effect as you plan on how best to meet your opponent with fire and maneuver.

Mobility - At times it will be necessary to stand at all costs in a position, but an efficient, effective defense is identified by mobility, both laterally and in depth to move forces as the situation dictates.

Flexibility
- In my opinion the single most important tenant when on the defense is flexibility, As the defender you will have no idea (in most cases) where the attacker will be coming from, as such you need to identify his avenues of approach (AAs) and his force composition as quickly as possible. Once you have a good idea as to where and in what strength he is attacking, you can shift forces accordingly.

Offensive Action - Even on the defense you should be looking for times to counter-attack or conduct a spoiling attack. This can be a tricky affair, and you have to weigh your available combat power against the enemy strength, ensuring you do not end up biting off more than you can chew.

Mutual Support
- Best case is to position your units so they can provide overlapping areas of fire and quick support for each other. In close terrain (like hedgerow country) this will be near impossible to achieve, yet this should be something you always try to achieve.

Mobile/Active Defensive Operations

I highly recommend a mobile/active or maneuver based defense, however:

DO NOT:
    • Get so excited that you go over to the offensive before you are really ready
    • Waste your main combat power in counter-attacks in areas where little information has been received
    • Overextend your forces and risk getting portions cut off from any help 
DO:
    • Use fast moving scouts to gather information on the enemy’s dispositions and movements
    • Use your main counter-attack force to break up over-extended enemy formations or to eliminate smaller enemy units or formations that cannot be quickly reinforced by your opponent
    • Conduct spoiling attacks if possible
    • Withdraw through the next line of defense if the pressure gets too great

June 21, 2017

Rifle Platoon Leader – PLATOON DEFENSE Part 1 - Introduction

132. CONDUCT OF DEFENSE. a. Successful defense is predicated
on each subordinate unit holding its area. The platoon holds its position at all costs. It never withdraws except upon the verified order of higher authority.
FM 7-10 The Rifle Company (1944)

“Hence that general... is skilful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.” Sun Tzu
There is precious little written about how to properly conduct a defense in Combat Mission games. Even most of my writings have been on maneuver and attack. I must confess that I find playing the defensive role in these games can be a serious challenge. Primarily because of the attacker’s main advantages:

  • The attacker almost always has a numerical superiority
  • The attacker often holds a massive combat power disparity over the defender
  • The attacker can choose where to attack, the defender has to account for all possibilities, which in most cases is an impossible task
  • The attacker has the initiative, he decides where and when any activity, movement or attacks, will occur
Many times those advantages are simply too great to overcome, but our goal, as defenders, is to make the attacker’s job more difficult and to take away at least some of his advantages, by:

  • Attriting the attacking force, ideally to a point where the attack is no longer viable, but at least to a point that forces the attacker to slow his advance
  • Keeping the attacker on his toes, in short, wrestle the initiative away from him and force him to react to our actions
  • Keeping the attacker at arm's length with picket forces, keeping the main combat power in reserve for counter-attacks or spoiling attacks
  • Ambushing enemy forces whenever possible, then getting out of the area as quickly as possible to reset in the next ambush position
  • Counter-attacking with a force large enough to cause serious damage
  • Conducting spoiling attacks on targets of opportunity whenever possible
  • Delaying - trade space for time, make the attacker bleed for every meter gained, make him get cautious, or so frustrated he gets careless
  • Maintaining a positive exchange ratio - try not to lose more than the attacker does, if that starts to happen your defense will unravel
  • Maintaining patience - trying to “make something happen” is almost always a recipe for disaster
  • Identifying the attacker’s schwerpunkt (if he has one), and planning ways to deal with it through counter-attacks, spoiling attacks, ambushes, etc.  
  • NEVER engaging the enemy strength with your strength, always look for opportunities to inflict pain by a thousand cuts, one small enemy unit at a time
  • Ensuring the attacker maintains a cautious approach and runs out of either enough combat power or enough time to complete his mission
I think of myself as an active player, so a static defense really goes against my grain and in my opinion leaves the defending player open to having his force taken apart one piece at a time.  Frederick the Great put it best when he said, “He who defends everything defends nothing”. I prefer an active defense, one that allows counter-attacks, spoiling attacks, and an active mobile force with which to react to and to interdict enemy movements.  
“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man.”George S. Patton
With this series of posts, I hope to explain my philosophy, show some examples from previous games, and to provide some guidelines on conducting a proper defense that will work.  Though these posts will be focused on the Platoon Defense, the concepts are scalable and can be applied whether you are commanding a Platoon, a Company, or a Battalion.

June 09, 2017

Battle Technique - Keyhole Firing Position

"One of the most successful techniques is the "Window" or "Keyhole" position. Simply stated, the basis for this technique is to limit exposure by deliberately restricting a tank's sector of fire. The tank is exposed only to the targets at which it is firing. It then shifts to other firing positions as targets are destroyed."
NTC Observations November '85

Whenever I place my armor in a Combat Mission game I try to find the most secure and effective position possible.  One of the most effective is called a Keyhole Firing Position.  The goal is to have a very narrow firing arc and to have security to each flank.  This position should also be easy to back out of as required.  Try to find and use keyhole positions for any of your important weapons, including tanks, halftracks, MGs, AT weapons, etc.

A keyhole position does dramatically decrease the amount of area your asset can cover, so it is best used as an ambush position, or as a temporary firing position.  Use it, then move to a new spot as the situation warrants.

Example:  from my CMFI Eye of the Elefant BETA AAR - I placed a halftrack in a keyhole position expecting my opponent's Anti-Aircraft halftrack to drive by, I was not disappointed.  Though I didn't kill the enemy vehicle I did cause it some pain and it backed off without being able to return fire.


May 18, 2017

Battle Technique -Throw Grenades Over a Crest

If you suspect the enemy could be just over the crest in a reverse slope posture:

  • stop on your side of the crest and target as far as you can towards the crest, or better slightly on the other side.  
    • (IMPORTANT: ensure your target in set to less than 30 meters) 
  • If the targeted location cannot be fired on with direct fire (i.e. no clear target), your team will only use grenades.

Your team will then toss grenades over the crest and you will be able to move to the crest with your second team to assault through the position.

Example in action:

May 21, 2016

Illustrated Vignettes

One of my favorite books of all time, and it sits on my night stand to this day as constant reading, is The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes, which is chock full of small stories like these from ancient times to modern.


These illustrated vignettes will be based on in-game PBEM experiences... when I experience an interesting or compelling situation I might use that as a basis for an Illustrated Vignette.

The images in these vignettes are all based on screen captures from the Combat Mission games, however many of them are highly modified.  Take for example this panel:

It started life as a simple screen capture, but after numerous modifications in Photoshop, some hand painting, and finally the application of several filters, it went from the image on the left below, to the one on the right.

The following image of the leader conference around the commander's jeep is made up of a total of six different screen captures from Combat Mission, the jeep, one for the map, and one for each figure.  This particular image was very time consuming to assemble as I had to match the lighting on the jeep to all of the figures, composite them, modify them, etc..

I will try to put these out once in a while as the urge hits me.  The first Illustrated Vignette, King of the Hill, is available now.  These vignettes will probably be rare occurrences on this blog, but they are a fun way to waste some of my time.

April 01, 2016

Combat Mission Final Blitzkrieg Mods

Gridded Terrain Mod
Essential to better see the lay of the ground, especially for snow covered terrain.



Period Floating Icon Mod
Uses period US Army WW2 map symbols to help identify unit types.  For me this makes it much easier to identify units quickly and accurately.

Note, this set is an improvement over my previous icon sets as it moves all armored vehicles out of the symbol boundary which now is reserved for soft units (infantry, guns, trucks, etc.).



Key:

Hex Shaped Marker Mod

Improved Rank & Branch Insignia
This mod covers the US Infantry, Armor, Mechanized Infantry, and Airborne, and the German Infantry, Panzer, and Panzer Grenadiers)

Shown in game:
 Ranks Key:

March 19, 2016

TANK TACTICS: Panzer Vorwärts! Aber mit Verstand! - ANNOTATED

Armor Forward! But with Intelligence!


This training circular that was issued by the German Panzer force in WW2 was intended to give panzer commanders and crews a basic set of building blocks for tactics, techniques, and procedures that could be used to better apply armored units in combat.  These were compiled from the German Army's combat experiences and are invaluable advise everybody who plays the Combat Mission games should follow.

What I intend to do with this post is to quote from this pamphlet and try to give a little insight into how each pointer applies to using armor forces in Combat Mission.  My comments will be in black text.

Though the lessons are mainly targeted at actions against the Russian Army, they apply to any combat force regardless of the opponent.

I searched the internet for a copy of the full document but alas was unsuccessful in my search.  What is freely available online is an English translation (by Fionn Kelly) of the 30 Points for Success on the Battlefield.  If anybody has a scanned copy of the original document that you can share, please contact me.

Introduction:

"The Panzer Regiment is, by reason of its firepower, protection and mobility the main fighting power of the Division. It’s strength lies in unexpected, concentrated and determined attack; aggressive leadership and daring operations."
The intent of any branch, but especially the armored force should be to apply superior combat power at key points at key times during an action.  Armor in particular is ideal in this role due to its:
  • Maneuverability
  • Inherent combat power
  • Survivability 
This paragraph which emphasizes "unexpected, concentrated and determined attack" implies:
  • Apply your combat power where your opponent least expects it.
  • Concentrate your fire, if not your actual units on one key point.
  • If you attack, attack with enough combat power to overwhelm the enemy held position.
In addition the paragraph mentions "aggressive leadership and daring operations" which in the CM world translates to:
  • Be bold in your maneuver, but not foolhardy or careless.
  • Take advantage of the situations presented to you and dare to take chances and seize opportunities or throw your combat power at weak points before your opponent can reinforce or support them.
"Combat in Russia has shown that victory is not necessarily determined by vehicle type or quantity, but the spirit and skill of the tank soldiers operating them. This is the critical factor.

This exemplary combat spirit can, however, count for little if the panzer truppe is not led by competent officers. Superior tactical leadership in battle is a prerequisite when one desires few, or better still, no casualties.

The purpose of this volume is to pass on the collective experience of veteran front line combat leaders in a simple and understandable format."
Whether playing CMRT against a Russian player, or any of the other WW2 Combat Mission games, it is a well known fact that troop quality and the skill of the player commanding them can redress many of the disadvantages inferior equipment has.  
When combating superior armor (say Sherman versus Panther or Tiger) then you have to use extra care in your maneuver and application of combat power.  This is "tactical leadership in battle".
A commander who does not use his head when using his armor, or who throws his combat power at an enemy without having some knowledge of what he is up against, can lose a battle regardless of the training level of his force, or how superior his tanks are compared to his enemy's. 
30 Points for Success on the Battlefield:

"1. Before any attack acquaint yourself with the ground. Use the information provided by other units or by the map. Share this information with your subordinate commanders. Exact information and correct estimation of the terrain will be the decisive difference between victory and defeat."
I cannot emphasize how important a good map analysis is prior to any battle.  At least during setup, examine the map from your point of view and from your opponents and attempt to identify key terrain, potential friendly and enemy avenues of advance, danger areas, etc.   
See my METT-T analysis post for more detailed information.  Also see any of my Combat Mission AARs for examples of terrain analysis in actual games.
"2. No armored attack is so urgent, even under the most pressing situation, that you do not have time to inform subordinate leaders of the tactical situation, mission objectives, and technical and logistical factors of the impending action. Impetuous action on your part can result in unnecessary loss of men and materials and place the success of the mission in jeopardy.
Take your time, study the scenario requirements and conduct a through reconnaissance.  In other words, do not be cavalier with your force.  Use your combat power only after you can make a studied appreciation of your opponent's combat power, where it is concentrated, where it is weak, etc.
"3. Only careful combat reconnaissance can protect you from surprise. Protect to your flanks as well as the front. Observation to all sides is the duty of every commander. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR EYE OUT FOR THE ENEMY!" 
One of the main themes of my Blog is reconnaissance.  If you take nothing else from what I have posted, I hope you can take away how important I believe combat reconnaissance is to success in the Combat Mission games.   
Even though this post is primarily tank focused, most Combat Mission actions feature mixed forces of armor, infantry, and support assets.  Use them as a team and use each component in the role that best suits them i.e. infantry makes the best scouts, armor make the best quick attack force, artillery is best used to interdict or soften up an enemy position, etc.
See my post on ReconnaissanceLTC Scott Coulson's article The Patience to See, and my Platoon Scouts post for more information and guidance.  
"4. In the combat environment you must always be conducting an appreciation of the situation.  So at the decisive moment you can make the correct decision and issue short, clear orders without delay. This is the kind of leadership for which you are responsible."
This works hand in hand with your reconnaissance plan.  Always try to be in the process of assessing, or reassessing the enemy force, defenses, and intent.  It is a process that should only end when the scenario is concluded.  
When a "decisive moment" appears, unless you have been working this recon-assess loop then it might not be obvious to you.  It still might not, however you have a much better chance of recognizing these opportunities if you have a good assessment of the enemy force and a good educated guess as to the opposing player's intent.
See my Decision Process post and my Estimate the Situation post for more detailed information.
"5. Iron radio discipline is a prerequisite of good leadership, particularly when your only method of command is radio. In the point company, for instance, the trail platoons should not use the radio, except in emergency, leaving the net clear for the point platoon leader."
Not really relevant to the Combat Mission games until they more realistically model combat communications.  I have designed a set of  rules for the WW2 Combat Mission games that attempt to apply some modeling for the communications layer that is currently only abstractly modeled in the game. 
 "6. You must lead with strength. At least two tanks must be forward, and the trail platoons must be held far enough forward to support the lead platoon. The more guns that fire in the first minute, the quicker the enemy will be defeated and the fewer losses you will suffer."
A few important concepts in this point:
  • Do not operate tanks independently, at least use them in teams of two tanks.  
  • Concentrate your fire, if not your units.
  •  Overwatch any armor movement with as many tanks as is possible.
"7. When breaking cover, do it quickly and together. The more targets the enemy is shown simultaneously, the harder his fire control and distribution will be, and the more guns you will have in effect on the enemy."
In short, attempt to overwhelm the enemy, give him more targets than he can deal with while you attempt to have more guns on the enemy than he can handle.  be warned though, coming into view all at once without having an idea on where the enemy is can lead to major losses to your force.  In my CMFB BETA AAR I came over a ridgeline with two M18 TDs thinking I knew where all of the enemy armor was only to be ripped apart by an unseen and unexpected Panther tank.  
"8. In the attack drive as fast as you can. At slow speed you can see and shoot only a little better than at high, and are much more likely to be hit. For a tank there should be only two speeds: the halt (for firing!) and all out forward. This is the basic principle of tank combat!"
In the Combat Mission games it is not wise to take this point too literally.  When crossing open spaces, and while being overwatched by other tanks it is wise to travel as fast as possible to keep your exposure time to a minimum.. most times the speed of your tanks will be dictated by the terrain and the situation.  
The second point in this paragraph about using "the halt (for firing!)" is of course very wise especially when your target is an enemy vehicle or point target like a house, or trenchline where accuracy is important.  However a strong case can be made for firing on the move when the target is soft (infantry or guns)  and it is area fire.  Use this technique when your main goal is to keep the enemy's heads down as you advance your armor, but do not expect to cause very many casualties as the fire can be wildly erratic.
 "9. When antitank weapons are encountered at long or medium ranges, you must first return fire and then maneuver against them. First, issue a firing at the halt order to bring effective fire to bear then commit the bulk of the company to maneuver on the enemy with one platoon providing fire support at the halt.
This point is describing the Fire and Movement technique.  Though my post on this subject is infantry based, any of the tactics I describe can be used with armor units as well.
Also see my Squad Attack Drill post and the Tank Section Attack scenario.
 "10. When antitank weapons are encountered at close range, stopping is suicide. Only immediate attack at the highest speed with every weapon firing will have success and reduce losses."
Another point that is highly situation dependent.  Most times if you are maneuvering your tanks and come under anti-tank gun fire you might not even know where the fire is coming from.  In these cases I would suggest you pop smoke (if available) and withdraw.  Then scout the area where you suspect the fire came from in order to identify where it originated.  Once you have that information you can area fire to suppress the gun and then attack it.
If the anti tank gun's location is known then by all means area fire around the gun and assault it using the Fire and Movement technique. 
 "11. In combat against the antitank guns you may never even under the protection of strong fire support allow a single platoon to attack alone. Antitank weapons are not employed singly. Remember lone tanks in Russia are lost!'
Basically what this point is emphasizing is to not piece-meal your tanks.  If you have more than one tank in a scenario use them as teams of at least two tanks, but never alone.  Exceptions to this might be when in support of infantry and the tank is kept to the rear only coming out to fire when the area has been cleared by the infantry.  The tank is still part of a team in this case though, and is not alone.  
 "12. You must continually keep a broad interval (100m) between vehicles. This splits the enemy's defensive fire and complicates their fire control. Narrow intervals must be avoided at all cost."
The distance between your tanks is not as important as the guidance to never clump your tanks in close proximity to each other.  I always stress to concentrate your fire, not your armor, this translates to keep a good distance between your tanks (so an enemy anti tank gun or tank can't easily fire on more than one tank at a time) but ensure they can target the same enemy vehicles or enemy held position.  
Clumping your armor into the same piece of ground will only simplify the enemy's targeting.
"13. When an impassable obstacle, i.e., a minefield or antitank ditch, is encountered you must immediately and without hesitation give the order to withdraw into the nearest cover. Standing still, in open sight, trying to carry on the attack, is a poor tactical position to adopt and the risk of loss is high. Better to withdraw into cover and conduct an appreciation of the situation."
Similar to my advice in point 10 above, when any obstacle appears that will block your movement, whether it be a road block, minefield, or enemy gun or tank, you should back up assess the problem and only when you have an appreciation of the situation make your decision on how to tackle it.
"14. When your advance must pass potential enemy antitank positions, for instance a woodline, you should either pass by them so closely that you are inside their minimum range, or remain so far away that you are outside their maximum effective range."
 Common sense advise, and I would add to it by advising you to use Masked Movement whenever possible to keep your high value assets out of the line of fire of any anti tank weapons.
 "15. Enemy tanks should not be attacked directly. It is preferable to avoid them until you can move into favorable firing position, and surprise them from the flank or rear. Repelled enemy tank assaults must be aggressively pursued."
 Attacking an enemy unit, but especially anti tank guns and tanks, from the flank or rear is always preferred.  This can take some time to arrange, and you have to be constantly on the lookout for unspotted or unexpected enemy units that could be lying in wait for just such a move.
"16. A strongpoint, i.e., a small village or artillery battery position, whenever possible should be attacked from different directions simultaneously in order to split enemy defensive fire and deceive him about the true location and direction of the attack. In this manner your breakthrough will be easier and your losses fewer."
 Whenever attacking an enemy position coming from multiple directions is highly advisable as it thins the enemy defenses and forces him to guess where your main thrust is going to land.  
When attacking a position, I often don't know myself from which direction my main attack will come, that decision many times will come after I have contact with the enemy defenses and have a better picture of them.
"17. Always prepare dug in positions and camouflage against the possibility of air or artillery attack. Being sorry afterwards is no excuse for losses taken by these causes."
Of course the Combat Mission games do not take into account camouflage and you can not dig in during a scenario.  however you can be smart about unit placement, using treelines and woods to shelter your high value armor.  These will provide some concealment from roving enemy aircraft.
"18. Ammunition should not always be conserved; in the decisive moment, if you want to save casualties, you may expend ammunition at exceptionally high rates (for instance, an emergency attack)."
Ammunition consumption can only be controlled in the game by the use of restricted covered arcs and keeping your units out of contact.  Maintain fire discipline as much as possible until you come into contact with enemy high value targets, then let your tanks fire free until that asset is destroyed, damaged, or pulls out of your line of fire,
"19. Never split your combat power; that is to say, always employ the company so it can provide mutual support. When your mission has two objectives attack one and then the other with all force at your command. In this way your probability of a successful outcome is higher with fewer casualties."
The old military axiom to never split your force should indeed, whenever possible, be applied to the Combat Mission games.  Your platoons should at least be mutually supporting and your entire force should operate as a team to accomplish the task at hand.
The goal is to mass against one enemy position at a time and eliminate each prior to moving on to the next. 
"20. The benefit of support from artillery or aircraft must be taken advantage of immediately.  As soon as this support has ceased you must be on the objective engaging the enemy. Do not give the enemy time to recover. These fires generally only produce a suppressing effect, not a destroying one. It is better to risk a friendly shell or bomb than to charge into an active antitank defense."
Whether the support fire is indirect, direct, or tactical air, the goal is to keep the enemy's heads down and keep them from returning fire as your attacking force closes on the position.
"21. Other weapons and arms, attached to you, should not be misemployed.  Do not use them for purposes for which they were not intended, for example, do not use tank destroyers as assault guns, or armored infantry as tanks, or recon as engineer troops or infantry.
 Each asset has a purpose and a strength and using them in a fashion that does not play to that strength is asking for disaster.  Plan your battles wisely in order to utilize your force as a team each component of which has a role.  A force used in this fashion will be stronger and harder to defeat.  Look for opportunities presented by your opponent where he is not following this rule, and punish him.
"22. Unarmoured or lightly armored units attached to you must be protected from loss until they are needed for their own operational tasks." 
Protect the vulnerable.  If enemy tanks or anti tank guns are present on the field do not move your halftracks and truck borne infantry until those enemy assets have been neutralized, damaged, or forced to withdraw.  Protect the movement of these units by overwatching them with your tanks.
"23. Attached units placed under your command are not your servants, but your guests. You are answerable to supply them and share everything they need. Don't just use them on guard duty! In this way they will work better and more loyally for you when you need them. And that will be often!"
Of course in the Combat Mission games any support units will appear as a part of your force and will rarely be identified separately.  There is nothing to stop you from using them in any way you wish (as long as you follow point 21).
"24. In combined operations with infantry or armored infantry, ensure the various teams can provide mutual support. Which of the two is leading is a secondary matter; the intention of the enemy is to separate your combined forces. Your battle-cry must be "Protect the Infantry!" and the infantry's battle-cry is "Protect the Tanks!"
One hand washes the other, tanks without infantry is a weaker force than a tank unit supported by infantry.  See my CMFB BETA AAR and my CMBN Marketgarden BETA AAR for examples of all or heavy tank forces that ended up far weaker than they initially appeared.  I lost both of those games mainly because I did not purchase a balanced force (plus some sketchy game play on my part).
In action, if you can separate the enemy tanks from his infantry then the enemy infantry will be far easier to deal with, as so will the now unsupported enemy tank unit.
"25. You and your soldiers must always concentrate on your assigned mission. Do not vary from the task unless the enemy is a threat to the accomplishment of your mission. Then you must attack and destroy him."
In the Combat mission games I tend to concentrate on destroying the enemy force first, accomplishing the mission second.  Especially when on the attack.  When defending your task is the mission, and delaying the enemy is more important in many cases than destroying him.
"26. After a victorious battle keep alert and prepare for a counterattack, which will certainly come and probably from a different direction than you expect. Later you can collect the spoils of victory."
When an opponent does counter-attack, like in my CMRT BETA AAR where my opponent attacked my Deep Strike force with his armor.. unfortunately in this case I was ready for him and had time to react when I saw him coming.
"27. In a defense or security mission, position your tanks so that not only their firepower, but also their shock value can be brought into play. Only leave a few tanks in stationary firing positions. Keep most as mobile reserves under cover. Tanks defend aggressively!"
This is great advise when using tanks on the defense.  Do not show your hand too early and allow your opponent time to react and plan, rather let him advance then cause as much damage as possible with your previously hidden armor.
"28. Against strong enemy resistance, there is no point in continuing to attack. Every failed attack only costs more casualties. Your effort must always be to hold the enemy with only weak forces, in order to use mass of your strength at another, weaker place, breakthrough, and destroy the enemy by surprise attack in the rear or flank."
Never push an attack beyond the reasonable.  If it looks like the task is becoming impossible or will cause you more casualties than is comfortable then withdraw, reassess, and try something else.  If the entire battle has reached a point where it is looking hopeless to you, then there is no shame in asking for a cease fire.
The main item in this point that I want to call out is the third sentence.  When defending, use as few units as possible and husband your main strength for where the enemy's main attack appears to be going, or for where he is showing an opening for a counter-attack or a spoiling attack,  
"29. Never forget that your soldiers do not belong to you, but to Germany. Personal glory hunting and senseless daredevilry lead to success rarely, but always cost blood. In battle against the Bolsheviks you must temper your courage with your judgement, your cunning, your instincts and your tactical ability. Only then will you have the prerequisites to be victorious in battle and only then will your soldiers look on you with loyalty and respect and always stand by you in untiring combat readiness."
 Throwing units into senseless situations will rarely help your cause and could instead cost you the battle.  When you do commit your tanks and your main combat power do it with whatever knowledge you have gained through the Decision Process.
"30. The panzer division in modern warfare is the decisive arm of combat, much like cavalry was in former times. Tank officers must carry on in the tradition of the cavalry, take up its aggressive spirit on behalf of the Panzer arm. Therefore take note, as a basic combat principle, of Marshall Blucher's motto, "FORWARD AND THROUGH!" (but with intelligence)."
I want to emphasize the "but with intelligence" phrase.  After reading this and my comments I hope the one thing that you come away with is to think before acting, scout the enemy before planning, and to continually update your threat assessment as the battle unfolds, and only then make the decisions of how best to use your armor, infantry, and support assets.
I hope this post is helpful.