Maneuver Warfare: A Wargamer’s Notebook – Schwerpunkt – An Argentine Commando Fire Team and the Simplest Focus of Effort

Montoneros de mierda, the young Lieutenant from the 602 Commando Company thought as he pondered through his limited options. Second day of Operation Suncho Huayco and the progress is way too short of expectations. Originally intended to dismantle a vast network of drug traffickers, the operation has run into a nasty surprise: leftist guerrillas with the willingness to come back from their dubious past, have been armed to the teeth by the bottomless cash coffers of the criminal cartels.

3 Km north of Villa Padre Monti, Tucuman, Argentina.

The concept of Schwerpunkt is the second filter of the Maneuver Warfare framework proposed by William Lind in his Maneuver Warfare Handbook. The translation of this term is "point of main effort" and is frequently confused with a physical location. It turns out that maneuver leaders often designate a unit as the schwerpunkt (i.e. 3th Company is the point of main effort) and all other units support the former.

The most comprehensive and rewarding form of a schwerpunkt is a conceptual focus on how to fight an engagement. In this short vignette, the Argentine Lieutenant has bumped into a guerrilla-occupied compound. Outnumbered (7 guerrillas vs 3 Commando men), he knows that the police is moving up towards the compound and he needs to avoid the massacre of the under-armed cops. His concept of fighting -his schwerpunkt- is to enter the compound and engage a limited amount of targets at a time until the compound is clear. Picking up targets from the distance, while viable, would result in maybe too many rifle muzzles aimed at his troops.

This is from a custom-made solo scenario that I edited. I am using the UNSUR mod (Argentine and Uruguayan troops) and the CBA3 mod. I placed the guerrilla into the compound, with a random location radius of 100 meters so I don't know where they are. Some of you may have seen me broadcasting live while I tested this mission. 🙂

Approaching the compound, holding fire and moving very slowly. The sooner the Commandos enter the compound, the safer they will be.


An all-weapons-free order is issued. But the jungle is so thick that the Argentine troops loose their targets as they move. So, the Argentine Lieutenant takes the first shot and drops this unaware guerrilla.


As the Argentina troops start to move towards the compound, enemy combatants start to be visible. They are taken out by a machine gunner. The AI troops are supporting the main effort (get in the compound ASAP to avoid being caught in the outer fringes.


As the leader moving on point, the Lieutenant is also in charge of the schwerpunkt. There is gonna be some butt hurt here. 🙂


He goes down, good hit!


Enemies inside these buildings are vulnerable to shots through the shutters. This one went down with three shots or so.


The leader has his three man deployed in a file formation, to avoid them straying out of the narrow field of fire required for this schwerpunkt. In this scene, an enemy buddy team has appeared at medium distance (across the building in the foreground) and started shooting. Fortunately the AI team took good care of the threat and the grenade launcher was not needed today.


This other guerrilla shot back in our direction, but was quickly dismissed by fires from the Lt. and his men.


Moving like a rat, close to the walls. The schwerpunkt was all about a narrow battlespace and the AI team performed flawlessly.


Building-clearing with frags. Very effective and loud flank-securing technique.
The Argentine team took good care "slicing" corners of the buildings, and the good marksmanship of the Commandos ended up cleaning the compound.

One could argue that this vignette was about just proper support and bounding overwatch. Indeed, this was bounding overwatch. But bounding overwatch is a technique that may be applied wrongly if there is not a schwerpunkt acting as a glue to achieve victory. In this brief example, everything was about keeping the battlespace narrow, so a proper bounding had to keep it narrow as opposed to have AI troops providing overwatch separated from the line of advance.


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