At ease, Ladies, gentlemen. Welcome to Tac 101. The intent is not to turn you into officers in a day. For those of you just joining First Company, Ladies of the Night, this is to review how we do things. The is not to help you second guess your squad leader. Move with your squad, shoot what the rest of the squad is shooting at. This session will just help you make sense of things.
This is our intent for our allies as well. Our style of fighting will look hectic, but there is an underlying structure. To understand the structure, to understand why we fight as we do, I must start with a little theory. Bear with me for a bit.
There are three basic sorts of troops that form the backbones of 40th millennium armies: slow assault, such as Orcs, fast assault, such as jetpack marines, and slow shooters, such as Imperial Guard infantry. None is superior to any other. It is possible to form combat commands made up entirely of one of these three basic types. If this is done, in bland mixed terrain, the slow shooty force will usually blow away the slow assault force. The fast assault force will close with the slow shooty force before the shooters can do much damage. The slow assault force will badly outnumbered by the fast assault force. Each of the three unit types has an advantage over one other basic type, and a disadvantage against the other.
This triple balanced can be broken by extreme terrain. In a full forest or dense city, shooters don't have sight lines. In a flat desert, assault troops lack a snowball's chance in the Eye.
Which brings us to our first doctrine point. The Ladies do not deploy extreme forces dedicated to one of the three styles only. It is tempting. If an extreme force gets the right terrain, opponent and mission, it can blow away its opponent without much thought, effort or losses. The problem is that the wrong terrain, opponent and mission will always be lurking in such a company's future. Extreme armies invite extreme victory or extreme disaster. We reject this approach.
The other temptation is three way balance. If specialization is risky, balance must be good, right? We have found this not to be so. When we face triple balanced opponents, we have generally been able to blunt the fast elements before they close, and still have time to focus on the slow assault elements. If one massive fist of a highly specialized army can often be made to miss, none of the three fists of a triple balanced army have a knock out punch. The fast assault, slow assault and slow shooty elements have too divergent a style to work together well, and no single element is strong enough to be decisive.
This does not mean triple balanced armies can't be made to work. A good commander can find ways to coordinate diverse units. We just can't count on always having good... Oops. Never mind.
Two fists. Two wings. That's our doctrine. Of the three possible basic choices, we have chosen slow shooting and fast assault. We avoid slow assault. This means all squads intended to fight in close combat have some method of moving fast: wings, transports, jetpacks, anti grav boards, the ability to ride the warp, magic flying broomsticks, whatever. Even the ability to infiltrate near the enemy borderline counts. If a unit is intended to get up close and personal, the unit is given the training and equipment needed to get there fast.
On the flip side, our slow shooting units feature range. You don't need to be fast if your weapon can reach out and touch from considerable distance. We feature boltguns, kroot rifle, sniper rifles, heavy bolters, and lascannon. Mostly boltguns.
Next major doctrine. The side causing the most hurt with long range shooting can afford to be patient. This isn't the call of the individual soldier, or even the squad leader. This is a call for the company commander. If the half of our army dedicated to long range shooting is winning without help from the assault wing, we let the enemy come to us. The longer it takes him to come to us, the more shot up the enemy gets, the easier the battle is when our assault wing finally commits itself.
If, on the other hand, most of the opposing army is dedicated to long range shooting, they generally aren't so good at close combat. If this is the case, forget patience, the idea is for the fast assault wing to close as soon as possible. The shooters will weaken the point of attack, but there is no patience, there is a vital urgency.
Two doctrines. The patient defensive doctrine, and the aggressive offensive doctrine, each featuring a different wing of the army, each designed for a different type of opponent.
While we have two wings, they often get deployed in three lines. The heavy support line has the longest ranged weapons, is weakest in close combat, thus is rear most. This would be havoc squads, tanks, kroot snipers, obliterator cultists, and the like. Next forward is the rifle line, bolt gun marines sometimes supported by Kroot carnivore. Three functions. Shoot the enemy. In an offensive fight, move forward to summon warp cavalry. In a defensive fight, prevent the enemy from reaching the heavy line. The forward line is the fast assault. The front line might include warp cavalry, assault marines in rhinos, kroot vultures, jetpack assault units, and often army commanders with jetpacks, power swords and hero complexes. In an offensive fight, the forward line pushes forward ASAP. In a defensive fight,, the fast assault elements lurk behind cover during the early shooting phase of the engagement, then jump the enemy at last moment, but before the enemy engages the rifle line.
Another doctrine... Shoot assault troops. Assault shooting troops. Most of our units fall into a few specialty groups. The specialties are simple: shoot infantry, shoot vehicles, or stab infantry. If our forces are doing their specialized thing, while the enemy is denied the opportunity to use his specialty, we're good. Speed allows our fast swords to get in among the enemy rifle line. Long range allows our shooting line to reduce enemy assault elements before they hit our line. Mano a womano fights against an equal and similar units are thus discouraged. We prefer not to give the enemy a fighting chance.
Another doctrine... Identify the greatest threat and concentrate multiple units upon it. In short, don't let enemy units fight on equal terms. On a good day, we might get a heavy bolter havoc squad, a lascannon havoc squad and an obliterator cult lurking near each other, forming a fire base, screened by several boltgun squads. We will choose one or two units that are the greatest threat to the fire base, and absolutely blow them away. Another time, we might summon a unit of warp cavalry, move them into assault position against an opposing squad, then soften the target squad up with fire from the heavy and rifle lines. This is offense in depth. One can't always pull it off, but the heavy, rifle and fast lines can sometimes coordinate in taking out a single enemy unit.
Many units fighting one unit is the essence of maneuver warfare. If you go to officer candidate school, they will teach you about flanking maneuvers, kill zones, and all sorts of maneuvers and the buzz words to describe them. We can't cover all that here. Still, much of the essence of maneuver and concentration of force is in choosing one enemy unit and thumping it with many friendly units. Again, we prefer not to give the enemy a fighting chance.
Speed and range both help. Denying the enemy speed and range also helps. Another doctrine... kill enemy transports first. Kill bikes. Kill jet pack troops. Kill cavalry. Kill enemy long range heavy weapons fire teams and vehicles. If one is faster than the enemy, one has a big advantage in shaping the battle field. Half our army is fast. This advantage is exaggerated by killing fast enemy units. A slow enemy with short range weapons is predictable, and often helpless. Thus, as the battle starts, if we can concentrate fire on fast or long range units, we will do so.
One side point... weapons selection. In the early days, the Ladies of the Night had no infrastructure behind us, no factories churning out weapons. We picked most of our equipment off enemy dead and captives. A lot of their stuff, we couldn't repair, or stock with ammo and spare parts. We still go out of the way to engage Sisters of Battle, as we can't manufacture a lot of the parts needed to keep our power armor working.
Of necessity, we stuck with basics. We use swords, bolt pistols, bolt guns, heavy bolt guns, several lascannon, and a few power claw. When we work with our kroot allies, they have an even shorter list of equipment. This simplifies maintenance and logistics. This allows us to field a larger force than many opposing armies.
Perhaps we are overly conservative heretics. Sometimes, new recruits, scavenging a field after a victory, attempt to fight our tradition of a short weapons list. "Look, I think this plasma weapon is still charged! Zap zap ouch!" "I think this sword has a demon's soul entrapped in it! Can it keep me?" Fancy toys are useful when facing opponents encased in power armor. Numbers are better. If one is facing a hoard of fast bugs or an orc tidal wave, fancy toys are not as useful as an extra comrade at your side. While we see a lot of power armored opponents, one cannot specialize too much in defeating them. We keep things simple. We keep our numbers up.
That will do it. At least, that is how we do it. It works for us. This is not to say there aren't other approaches that work. Other races and other commands have different traditions, different equipment options, different recruits. They often couldn't adapt our doctrines, even if they wished to. Others are burdened with traditions and doctrines that out weigh common sense.
We won't be handing out honorary officer's insignia. The real course takes place out on the battle field. We hope this will help you make sense of what you see. Good luck. One last doctrine. Keep your head and butt down.
Thank you for your attention. Dismissed.