Strategy vs. Tactics

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Schwarzwald
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Strategy vs. Tactics

Post by Schwarzwald » Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:17 am

First off, I would like to say hello to everyone again, I’ve been off these past couple of weeks because adjusting to uni in a different state.

I’m beginning by proposing a question, what is the difference between strategy and tactics? Now most people, would answer nothing, but there is a difference, and being able to understand and exploit this can change a way any game is played, most notably the game of chess (of which I am a huge fanatic), but this can easily be applied to YSFlight as well.

To illustrate the difference, imagine this example. You are about to enter into a dogfight with two SU-27 Flankers, and you’re in an F-5 Tiger with no wingman, all pilots are about equal. Tactics are the decisions you make from this point on, your defensive and offensive BFM determine whether you’ll survive (which in this case is low). Quite simply, tactics are the decisions you make in response to the situation you’re currently facing.

Conversely, strategy encompasses the decisions you made prior to the engagement, your choice to engage being of significant importance, the speed, the height, the aspect and the angle off with respect to the fighters also affecting your chances of living. They are the decisions you made a minute ago, when there was no threat, did you idle around flying in circles? Or did you position yourself so that when it came time to fight, you had the advantage.

Sun Tzu — 'Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.'

Most people think tactically, i.e. they do nothing when there is nothing to do. But having a strategic advantage can mean a lot, especially when the end result is life or death, for example, the strategy used on the WW3 server, by flying low under radar coverage is thoroughly effective, because it means a pilot can get on another’s aircraft’s six o’clock BEFORE they start the engagement, so even if the attacking pilot’s tactics are absolutely hopeless (i.e. like me they can’t dogfight to save their lives), they still have a good chance of coming out the winner.

It should be clear at this point that strategy can affect tactics, but not the other way around, if you’re in a bad situation to start off with, superior tactics will let you live, however, if your tactics are comparable to your opponents, there is a fair chance you will die.

Now the importance of this may not be significant to the single pilot, but when there are teams or squadrons flying as one, superior strategy is vital to win.

For example, the choice of aircraft, the positioning of aircraft, whether or not to provide escort, or to wingman your pilots. Because there is more than one pilot, with everyone looking out for each other, there are numerous strategical combinations that allow easier tactical, or inferior tactical combinations to prevail in the end.

I’m not saying that tactics are not important, and in YSFlight, superior tactics are usually good enough to always win, but there are ways for less experienced pilots to be able to notch up kills without immediately becoming ace pilots. Ultimately it is tactics that decide who is the victor, but a fight rarely starts out as two aircraft aiming head on, at the same speed and height.

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Re: Strategy vs. Tactics

Post by Dragon029 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:48 am

I'm actually currently taking two courses related to strategy; one is more about business strategy, but the other is mainly about military capability and how that ties into strategy.

To start off; there are 3 levels of planning:

Strategic
Operational
Tactical

Strategic is where your overarching vision comes in; your mission statement, etc. This is where you define what you want to be ("we aim to be the largest fighter squadron ever"). This is also where you might define your fleet ("AC aircraft!") and your identity.

Operational is where a lot of work is done; it covers things like how you'll train, what you'll do to maintain numbers, etc. How you might fight overall, etc.

Tactical is the lowest level and is where the majority of human interaction takes place. This is where you make decisions to train on map ____, performing a _____ mission as training, etc.

---

So to put Sun Tzu's words into perspective. Having strategy without tactics is having a vision, but not putting in the effort to actually plan and achieve it. Tactics without strategy robs you of a consistent identity and leaves you as little more than a group, rather than a team who has a common goal.
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Re: Strategy vs. Tactics

Post by Schwarzwald » Sun Mar 16, 2014 11:20 pm

Wow, that sound's like an awesome course.

Unfortunately, because of the nature of YS, actual militarial strategy is hard to emulate, aircraft, fuel, weapons don't cost anything, logistics aren't required, and you can spawn at your start location without an entire management train.

I was thinking more in the lines of chess;

Strategy relates to your long term game plane (i.e. win), but there are smaller subsets within that plan, a step by step process that finally ends up at a checkmate and the piece movements that result in that, playing tactically means you play move by move, whatever looks best for the current board setup, and many grandmasters won using this method, but that's how you end up in a trap and desperately looking for a way out.

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Re: Strategy vs. Tactics

Post by Welshy » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:10 pm

In a high intensity war money is normally no object!
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Re: Strategy vs. Tactics

Post by Schwarzwald » Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:54 am

I can't say I agree with you, government's can't just print money whenever they go to war, money is derived from the tax-payer who, funnily enough, also gets to decide the leaders (in a democracy), now unless that particular country is getting invaded and in the case of the US, Russia, China, UK, France, Germany, (Australia and NZ via ANZUS), that is extremely unlikely, the people would support any degree of monetary spending to ensure the security of their borders and repel any would be invader. However, the reality of war these days is vastly different to both world ways, they tend to be on a far smaller scale, with major powers limiting their moves, and the public can often be divided as to support for any conflict overseas their government fights on their behalf. The Vietnam War was hugely unpopular in Australia, especially because of conscription, a war that we ultimate lost. Furthermore, an Air Force is hugely more expensive than the Army, with the cost of developing an aircraft being tens of billions of dollars, and an individual aircraft tens of million, as opposed to tens of thousands of dollars for an infantryman. The undeniable fact about aircraft is that they are expensive, their weapons are expensive, building air strips in foreign countries is expensive, aircraft carriers are very expensive.

But this is all beside the point, YSFlight has no monetary system so we don't have to consider it.

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Re: Strategy vs. Tactics

Post by Dragon029 » Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:25 pm

That said, if a nation is large enough to be self-sufficient (for mining, agriculture, etc) then money can be of no issue, as the government can simply contract civilians to build jets, tanks, munitions, etc, using the nation's own minerals / infrastructure, and paying for them by allocating additional rations and/or supplying money if the internal currency is still operating (eg your country has a company that builds TVs, computers, etc; you give civilian military contractors money to buy food and TV's, etc).

Naturally the world is currently far too intertwined to do that at the drop of a pin, but if it came to a non-nuclear WW3, nations like the US/Canada, Russia and maybe a few others like Australia, China, etc could still operate like this.
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