Q&A: Supply Raid

Thanks for answering my ask, I didn’t notice because it wasn’t like all the other ask/answers. So for a different book, is there any way an infantry heavy force might be able to defeat armored vehicles? The protagonists are defending a coastal city they just recently captured full of food and oil but before they can ship it off or dig in, the enemy attacks with tanks they recently bought. I’d rather not end it abruptly with, “and then they were all run over. The end.”

technonecromancerderaxus

I’m just going to skim over the part where the other side just “bought,” their tanks. That’s not how a military usually works, and most mercenaries/PMCs aren’t going to be fielding tanks. So, that’s strange.

It would make sense if the enemy was redirecting tanks to deal with your characters. Especially, if they had previously used some form of misdirection to get their foes to deploy the tanks elsewhere. (For example: bad intelligence Misdirection and deception is a major part of strategic warfare. If you can get your foes to deploy their forces someplace out of the way, it’s almost as good as killing them, and can pave the way for that later.

Getting any mechanized warfare unit to deploy to the wrong place is an even bigger boon. Your foes need to spend fuel to move them around. This means, logistical damage has been done, even if it can come back into position later. It’s easy to think this isn’t a serious problem, but during long or massive campaigns, logistical resources can get stretched pretty tightly. This is on top of the part where your characters are getting ready to loot their fuel dump.

With that out of the way, there are a lot of options to deal with armor. Most of it specialized. There are plenty of infantry portable anti-tank weapons. There’s also anti-tank mines. If they just captured an enemy munitions stockpile, there’s probably a few things in there that could be used against a tank. There may also be some nastier improvised options, including flame traps using stolen fuel, or selective sabotage of the city’s infrastructure, so that it will fail under the weight of a tank, potentially neutralizing the vehicle.

The exact layout of the city matters for planning. Your characters need to hold the port long enough for extraction. That means the rest of the city may be reduced to territory that the hostile forces will need to clear, delaying their advance. Delay them long enough, and it may open the door to naval bombardment, close air support, or successful extraction.

So, a couple things to keep in mind. Tanks are heavy; most civilian streets cannot support their weight. Usually this isn’t much of a consideration, however, if you want to take a tank into a coastal village, things could quickly get squirrelly.

A lot of coastal ports tend to be built on inclines. If the terrain is too flat, the town would be on the tidal plain. This is even more likely if there’s a port present, because the water would need to be deep enough to accommodate sea going vessels. Trade off is, if you’ve got streets (and roads) designed to accommodate heavy shipping, they’re not going to have a problem with a tank or twenty. We’re back to sabotage here as a real option. Undermine the road (assuming your forces have time to), and you might be able to cut off the armored advance, and possibly put a few in the water in the process. (They’re probably not coming back from that.)

If the tanks get into the city, then you’re left with very dangerous threats that are not exceptionally mobile. In a larger city, they can’t exactly blast through skyscrapers without getting buried under the rubble, and that’s still a risk even in smaller towns. They can’t (safely) drive through buildings that get in their way because there is no way for them to know if they’re going in on solid ground, or if they’re about to fall into someone’s basement.

Also worth remembering, tanks are great for dealing with enemy vehicles. They don’t really excel at dealing with infantry in an urban environment. It’s like trying to kill a fly with shotgun slugs. It might work, but it’s not going to be efficient. Having said that, any competent armor column will have infantry support. They’re there to keep your infantry from sneaking up and chucking a satchel charge under the turret.

Assuming a competent column is coming in with full infantry support and your characters are in a bad state. But, this is where you need to remember their goals. Your characters don’t need to win the fight, they prolong it long enough to the oil and food extracted. That means, even if they’re in a losing situation, their main job is to delay the enemy as long as possible. Now, not going to lie, that’d get messy. You’re going to lose some characters. But, if the goal was to seriously hurt the enemy by stealing their supplies, your secondary characters are expendable ahead of that goal. Possibly even some of your main characters. It depends on the ending you’re going for.

It’s also possible that, in the end, your characters may decide to scuttle the depot. That’s one ending, and it still achieves a partial victory, even if there aren’t any survivors.

You need to decide what you want from your story. Then, you need to get creative. This isn’t an automatically losing situation, but it is a legitimate challenge for your characters, and there’s going to be some costs for them. Sounds like it has the makings of a decent ending to me.

-Starke

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