Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Palladian Tactics and Doctrine

Right, we've done some modelling and stuff, so now it's time for more fluff.  I'll be posting the whole document up, but on here I'm going to take out some select bits, which hopefully might inspire a few others if it's even any good ... This admittedly rather hefty section is taken from a bit which combines a bit of history and background, and goes on to look at artillery doctrine.  

 2. Doctrine and Training. As with all Imperial Guard tithe-eligible worlds, the Departmento Munitorium maintains a small cadre of generally off-world officers as overseers, to supervise training and direct doctrinal development, as well as reporting back to senior Segmentum officials.  In practice, the department accepts that there is such a diversity in the worlds of the Emperor’s servants that to enforce strict Tactica Imperium doctrine would be foolish, not to say impossible.  All that the Departmento Munitorium asks of its men is unquestioning loyalty; it finds this in abundance in the case of the Palladian Guard.
This results in a huge divergence of regiments, from the more orthodox Cadian units to feral tribes of savages.  The Palladian Guard, however, prides itself on being one of the more strict devotees of the Tactica and as such its doctrine differs little from that Imperium-wide text.
The strategic emphasis is placed heavily on the offensive, but a well planned and adequately prepared assault.  While some scope is given to the ground commander to interpret the instruction, this is strictly confined and the unauthorised exceeding of one’s orders is strictly discouraged.  In order to achieve conditions favourable for an assault, the Palladians will normally allow the enemy to extend himself as far as he is content to, then form defensive positions dependant upon the enemy.  The enemy’s limited manoeuvre capability at this extreme of his operational range will allow defensive positions to develop and if necessary entrenched fortifications can be constructed.  From these positions, the enemy will be forced to expend much of his force in maintaining the line against probing attacks.  This will allow a concentrated build-up of troops in a pre-planned position, all in utmost secrecy.  In the weeks preceding the actual attack, numerous means of deception such as feints on the field, or dummy units and false radio traffic in the rear, will deceive the enemy as to the true object of the upcoming attack.  As the hour approaches, a whirlwind of artillery will crash down onto the enemy lines.  This is generally directed at the true target, as well as a number of ‘dummy’ targets to provide the enemy with a number of possible axes of attack.  Sometimes, the actual target will be allocated a lesser degree of firepower to add credence to this deception, and then the main assault will begin.  This will normally consist of at most five ‘waves’, each of at least divisional strength for a 10km frontage.  Each of the preceding waves will be set a Limit of Exploitation or L.o.E., being pre-ordered to withdraw upon reaching a certain location, time, enemy unit or even an allotted number of enemy dead.  These assaults will then withdraw, before being replaced by another.  One of the five assaults will be the true attack, and this will crash right through the enemy’s lines without stopping in the fully committed attack.  To add to the confusion, the ‘true’ attack is not normally pre-planned; the commander will gauge the strength of the enemy response and the attacking units, normally sent in with an L.o.E. will then have it rescinded only when in contact with the enemy, to find themselves then the main assault.  Once this has occurred, all pretences at deception are dropped and the attack fully pressed.
When fighting less orthodox foes such as Tyranids or Necrons, divisional ‘fortresses’ of dug-in positions accommodating each division will string out in a line in a more defensive attitude.  While of course thus easily bypassed, by definition these opponents will generally be less interested in capturing some distant objective and more with combating their immediate foes.  Thus, they will not generally bypass and instead take to assaulting each position.  Rather than being strung out in company dug-outs or a long trench line, each divisional position will constitute a much tougher prospect, defending from all sides.  The size and disposition of these redoubts can vary considerably but usually make use of some natural barrier to aid in the defence.  The enemy is encouraged to exhaust himself in futile attempts to overrun these positions before the emphasis shifts, and at the zenith of the enemy’s assault the Palladians will abandon their defensive positions and pursue the exhausted enemy to destruction.
This approach being strictly specialist, the more usual defensive tactic is to utilise trench networks again, but specifically the use of a thin line of screening troops.  Enemies are allowed and encouraged to make breakthroughs in these weak lines, but the Palladian response invariably comes as a robust counter attack.  The Corps of Pioneers are tasked with the provision of road and railheads, and low-level Navy landers assist in creating a military infrastructure that allows the rapid redeployment of reserves to strike the enemy when at his weakest. 
The Imperial Guard is renowned for its artillery, and the Palladian Guard are no exception.  However, the concentration of heavy, short-range howitzers and mortars is much higher than in other armies and it is in the defence that the enemy truly learns the destructive power at the Emperor’s disposal.  The Palladians are the masters of defensive artillery fire.  Their effectiveness, while stemming in part of course from the high concentration of fire available in the short to medium range bracket, is mainly down to their excellent planning staff.  A staff of rangefinders, observation officers, logisticians and syncronist-officers accompanies each artillery platoon.  This dedicated team, backed up by servitors and adepts of the Adeptus Mechanicus, is in constant communication with higher artillery command.  They expertly and carefully plan a layered, synchronised and mutually supportive network of destruction that is carefully timed with the enemy assault.  At every stage, he will be targeted in his rear by such a campaign of destruction it is impossible to visualise without being unfortunate enough to witness it first-hand.  This will press him forward, forcing him to commit to any attack and run into the regimental artillery of the units holding the line, along with their small arms fire from defensive positions.  At the first sign of a waver, the fire shifts onto the assaulting units themselves and a whirlwind of destruction ensures no attack ever gets close enough to threaten the line.
On the field itself, the Palladian infantry are masters of battlefield discipline.  Unlike nearby Cadia, the former are not blessed with such equipment and armour available to the legendary Shock Troop Regiments and instead rely on those qualities that have stood men in good stead for centuries: unshakable courage from undying faith in the Emperor.  In days since passed, the Palladians would fight in the battle lines more familiar to the troops of Mordia.  Doctrine has shifted since then, and while strategically these lines are still used, on the field of battle more use of extended skirmishing order is to be found.

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