Film Battle Los Angeles Discussion

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08:50:51 PM Sep 11th 2013
Right, there's been some dispute regards to the Hollywood tactics issue. The general opinion is, apparently, that the tactics shown in the movie are correct. I dispute this, based primarily on the analysis of the movie as in these links (for reference, IX Jac, the moderator discussing the movie, is a former Canadian Army intelligence specialist and staff NCO, and deployed to Afghanistan a few years back).

Firstly, on the issue of carpet-bombing:

tl;dr, summing up IX's post, carpet bombing is not practical, not cost efficient, and while you're assembling your carpet bombing package to bomb later, there are troops in contact who need air support now; if there is any open carpet bombing (like say a B-52 run over the beach), it would be done in addition to rolling CAS. The plan shown in the movie - Break contact before a certain time, at which carpet bombing takes place - would allow the enemy to seek cover, and the bombing would be done blind, which is counter to US strategy where you want the enemy in the open so you can kill them.

On drones:

tl;dr, while the drones managed to maintain air superiority, they don't leverage their air power the way the US would - any competent Predator operator would have killed the bus in short order - and their drone control centers are relatively easily detected. Also, their air superiority is not total, given that Nantz & crew managed to call for evac and the Huey was unmolested during ingress and exfil.

On the warfighting tactics as a whole:

tl;dr summary: Movie portrays COIN/Iraq tactics correctly, but in a war where COIN/Iraq tactics are not applicable.

10:25:02 PM Sep 11th 2013
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I do not recall regular patrols being sent out, actually. The only reason why Nantz is out there is because he needs to evac some civilians, wasn't he? And remember the Army personnel.

And remember, the drones are unpiloted. I'd imagine if they were actually were, the film would be over quite quickly - Nantz wouldn't have been able to lure it to the gas station, otherwise. You can also argue that they're not expecting humans to get anywhere close to the drone center - it took a LOT of luck for them to even get there and force it to surface. If it wasn't for the last missile getting through, Nantz' team would have died. I imagine the aliens are confident enough in their air superiority.
12:20:22 AM Sep 12th 2013
Here's the thing - as I'm quoting IX above, doctrine doesn't call for patrols to be sent out to escort civilians out. American doctrine assumes that civilians are to make their best effort out of the fighting zone, while you setup your defense. Of course, what we're seeing could be (as Ix describes it), a "feel-good" mission, being run counter to doctrine.

It then also begs the question of why the Army personnel are inside LA and why they've got tanks and the like in the city. Santos, I can buy, because here team was sent to recon and find the HQ, which is what should be happening. The army guys, not so much - the very fact that they're in the city is a strong argument that they're among patrols being sent into the city (else, logically, if Nantz's platoon was the sole patrol sent up, they wouldn't have run into the National Guardsmen or that Abrams).

Again, when Nantz and co call for evac at the last rally point, the Huey enters and leaves LA unmolested. We don't exactly see it doing terrain-hugging flying either, which suggests that drone air superiority isn't entirely total, or that the drones are autonomous and there's nobody keeping an eye on things, allowing that Huey to slip by.

While I agree that Nantz's team was lucky in finding the HQ, I'd dispute on the lot of luck part of that statement - the amount of EM interference needed to blackout a section of LA is enough EM for a competent ELINT crew to nail down - we've got sat surveillance, we've got ELINT craft, and other tools and tricks that could be used to pinpoint the location. When ELINT gear can actually read what's on your iPhone screen... yeah, the amount of EM that HQ's putting up is like a road flare.

Regards the Drone HQ guards, alternately, one might also argue that the HQ is understaffed because the aliens are spread out, and reduced their HQ guards to cover their presence in the city.
12:33:43 AM Sep 12th 2013
I can't recall /exact/ doctrine as soon as the aliens begin marching in, but they might have been part of the evacuation efforts - remember that LA and the surrounding cities were being evacuated as soon as the aliens began landing. I don't remember what the man leading the Army survivors says to Nantz, though, and tanks would imply actual warfare, not patrols.
02:20:27 AM Sep 12th 2013
Luckily I have the movie at home, so I'll back and check.

I'd argue, however, that seeing tanks used in the city is another example of COIN/street fighting, given that there have been Abrams patrols in Iraq, and again I'll reiterate that the movie is showing COIN/Iraq tactics - go into enemy territory and look for trouble - instead of the defended strongpoint concept that should have been employed.
04:08:37 AM Sep 12th 2013
edited by
There's actually a very good reason why there's so many troops out in the city fighting. It's mentioned at the beginning of the movie, right before the shit hits the fan, that Army, Marines, and National Guard are being deployed into the city to help with evacuation prior to the "meteor" impacts. The troops fighting in the streets during the flyover are units that were sent out to manage said evacuation. Later on, they were overrun during the ground aspect of the invasion (and the aliens move really damned fast, it seems) and scattered troops elements are either cut off or trying to retreat back to the defensive lines. Admittedly, its' a very heavy-handed evacuation, but there's indications in the movie that the government had some idea of what was coming and were hastily trying to deploy troops, but got slammed before they could do much.

Pretty much all of the infantry fighting in the combat zone after Nantz's squad is deployed comes from whatever evacuation troops survived the initial overwhelming amphibious assault and are scattered throughout the city after being shattered by the alien advance. None of them are from patrols being sent out aside from Santos' recon mission.

Ultimately, though, I think we just don't see enough of what's happening to get a good idea of what's really going on, so we shouldn't draw conclusions with incomplete data. There's just not enough there to say if the tactics are really bad or just look bad because we have a skewed view.

Either way, I think putting an entire entry about whether or not they used "proper" tactics would be unnecessarily nitpicky for Hollywood Tactics, which is really more for blatantly obviously terrible tactics. Maybe a rewording of the entry, i.e. "The squad-level tactics are good for a sci-fi movie..." without needing to go into full-on intelligence analyst mode.
01:49:22 AM Sep 17th 2013
Hi all. Sorry for the delay in replying - I've been mostly laid out due to illness.

Suggested compromise closer to the entry:

"The movie portrays American tactics as seen in Iraq. While the [[ Rule Of Cautious Editing relevance of that paradigm to the movie is debatable ]], the basic squad-level tactics are solid." (spaces taken out to show trope thimajig.)

I think that should be clear enough that the squad level is okay, but the larger picture may not be so and should not be taken as gospel. Sound okay?
12:46:35 AM Sep 24th 2013
We shouldn't be misusing Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment just for a disagreement that results in something on the discussion page; that's for serious things like arguments about abortion or other sensitive topics. You can leave that out and the point gets across.
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