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Stargrunt II Leaders - Platoon Sergeants
By Thomas Barclay

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Rationale Back to Top

Stargrunt II models command and control fairly well. The idea of representing command elements and their abilities via the mechanism for transfering actions is fairly novel and does help to give a feel for the benfits of command (or the penalties for loss of same). However, much of the combat leadership in most infantry units is provided by the non-commissioned members of th unit.

Squads are lead by Sergeants usually, with the squad 2ic being a Corporal or Lance Corporal. The platoon itself tends to be lead by a Lieutenant, but his backup is the Platoon Sergeant or Platoon Warrant Officer. This senior NCO has serveral key functions, including combat leadership, backing up his lieutenant (trying to keep the often green-as-grass young fellow from getting himself perforated), and providing the benefits of the Sergeant's knowledge and experience to the squads in his platoon.

Usually these Platoon Sergeants are long-service non-commissioned members. Many times these non-coms have assisted in commanding the platoon (as an extension of the Lieutenants battle-plan or by managing one end of a battle line while the lieutenant managed the other end). Sometimes the platoon officers become injured or are killed outright and the Platoon Sergeant takes over the platoon and fights it. Quite often in active campaigns this has resulted in Sergeants receiving battlefield commissions to lieutenant.

Given their important role in the real-world, it makes some sense to represent these non-coms in the Stargrunt II orders of battle. The objective, however, would be to do so in a way that is not totally unbalancing to the game mechanics.

Implementation Back to Top

Treat the Platoon Sergeant and lieutenant as both as command elements. However, the platoon can only have a total of 3 transfered commands in the course of one turn - either 2 from the lieutenant and 1 from the Platoon Sergeant or vice versa. Note that when the Platoon Sergeant is giving an order, HIS leadership is used in the calculations, rather than that of the lieutenant. Often times a platoon sadled with a brand new lieutenant may have a Leader 2 or 3 on their hands in the LT, and a Leader 1 in the form of the veteran Platoon Sergeant.

The obvious exception to this limitation of 3 transfered commands occurs if higher command reactivates the Platoon via the Platoon Sergeant or lieutenant. This situation will only occur if company level command is present on the Stargrunt II gameboard and this is relatively uncommon.

In the event the Platoon Sergeant is killed while the lieutenant is still alive, the platoon suffers a similar effect to losing their Lieutenant (in terms of making morale checks). Often times, the Platoon Sergeant is actually the "heart" of a platoon and his loss is more keenly felt than the lieutenant's would be. Also, this is a game mechanism to balance the benefits of having a Platoon Sergeant on the table. In this instance, no extra suppression is granted to the squad as the leader has not really been lost.

In the event the lieutenant is killed, and the Platoon Sergeant is allive, he may take over command of the squad immediately (though they must still make their leader loss check and take the suppression for the LT going down). This may actually improve the leadership level for the squad. In this circumstance, the Platoon Sergeant may of course only transfer at a maximum two commands (thus burning both of his available actions) rather than the sum of three which could be obtained while the other command element was present. In this instance, losing the Platoon Sergeant after he has taken over squad command duties is just like loosing the squad leader all over again.

Related Rules Back to Top

See the rules for using Leaders as Individual Figures (as normally the Platoon Sergeant is hidden within the command squad). I find that using the leader figures as individuals more accurately models their behaviour in infantry formations where they can and do move from squad to squad as the situation requires. This also tends to free up an entire squad to fight separately rather than sitting around vacantly while the Lieutenant yells into his radio.....

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