The myth of the super trooper in WWII reenacting
One of the worst things that WWII reenactors can do during combat is to submit to the feeling that they are some form of Sturminator (Audie Murphy Syndrome for Amis.) While prior articles here have pointed out many of the deficiencies of individual soldiers, taking personal fighting prowess too far is also a no-no. I have run into both Sturminators, those who think they can flammen everyone themselves, and yutzes, those who can only flammen themselves.
It is important to develope personal fighting techniques. By training individual soldiers to recognize lines of sight, fields of fire, and possible cover/concealment points, we enable the reenactor to defend himself in combat. Once we train the reenactor how to move quickly against the enemy using these principals, we now have a reenactor that can seriously hurt the enemy. But, the reenactor that is well trained personally is of little use unless he is also trained to function as a part of a team.
Many units that you will run into on the reenacting battlefield are just groups of individuals, and not one single team. As a result, it is almost impossible to get groups to work together, seeing as how they cannot even work with themselves. To counter this, the reenactor should remember the following principles: 1) The unit succeeds as one; 2) The unit fails as one. In order to get this mindset into the reenactor's (usually thick) skull, various field exercises can be used.
The buddy system is always a good place to start. When in a kette (battle line) advances and retreats should almost always be done with a buddy. For example, practicing covering your kumpelen (buddies) and then moving under their cover builds a sense of common purpose. It helps tie the men of the gruppe together. It further shows that successful manouvers come from bodies of men, and not individuals.
To enforce this sense, practicing moving in reihe (combat column) is useful for illustrating the necessity of staying in formation. The reihe is designed to keep the men together to prevent unnecessary casualties. Any Sturminator urges will reveal themselves here. Teaching the men how to move from the reihe to the kette is must for tactical training, but it also serves another purpose. This manouver allows the reenactor to utilize his personal training of recognition of cover and schussfelden while requiring him to conform his movements to remain within the formation.
At this point, the Gruppenfuhrer can strengthen the team feelings of the gruppe by practicing advancing, retreating, and setting up a defensive position. Once an area is to be secured, the reenactor often gets a burr in his butt and will take to his own manner of defense, unless a good Gruppenfuhrer steps in. The good Gruppenfuhrer will give strict orders about fields of fire, and an area to be defended. If the would-be sturminator is versed in following orders, then a real team can be forged.
Here we encounter the other great team wrecker in reenacting: the loner that cannot be ordered. Many of these types are people that you just can't tell anything to, but others have learned to be insubordinate. Obviously, this is a natural product of the fact that reenacting is NOT the real military. Also, WWII reenactments often have poorly defined command structures. Again it is training that will get the reenactor used to obeying orders and staying with his komraden.
Nothing burns up guys more than a sturminator who wanders off and gets himself and his kumpelen killed. It is almost always true that a reenactor can accomplish nothing on his own. This is why the Heer used units of men for command and control. The same goes on the reenacting battlefield. Men of a group must work together, and subsequently, they can work with other groups to accomplish their goals. Submitted by, Gefreiter Karl Welsch 3er Kompanie 43er Sturm Pionier Batalion