Forum Replies Created
Your typical levels of insanity! I’m with Darby, these guys (and that one in particular) have zero luck.
Well, it only took ya a couple weeks! 😉 In all seriousness, thanks guys, glad to know you saw them.
Thomaston – Yeah, I didn’t even need the tank to whoop them Commies! And they were too cowardly to use theirs. The ZSUs have definitely been a huge letdown for the bad guys. Regarding armor sitting around, 5Core is built on the idea everyone doesn’t get to do something, you’ve got to prioritize.
John – Lots of fun, but I must admit, 30 fights with 5CCC in a row was too much…
Continuing towards my closeout of the mini-campaign and Operation Chunky Bandit, I present more batreps.
Under counterattack, the Cubans launch a LAW at an encroaching Communist BMP.
1215 on 5 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #20
TF Hammer vs FLA 4th Company
1430 on 5 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #21
TF Bowie vs FLA 3rd Company
2115 on 5 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #22
TF Hammer vs FLA 6th Company
2330 on 5 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #23
TF Hawk vs FSNL 8th Company
0530 on 6 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #24
TF Hawk vs FSNL 8th Company
I hope you enjoy them, and next week I’ll look to close out the mini-campaign with batreps 51 through 56.
Rod – I’m furiously searching for my camouflage onsie… Glad you’re still kicking.
Kyote – Quit yer bitching and get to work!
That is the plan, but first I have to close out South Leon and Cronistria…
I wouldn’t mind doing it in 15mm, but I’m afraid of how much it would cost once I began letting the project grow…
Thanks for asking, John, I’ll take a look.
Patrice, thanks for the link, I’ll check it out! I know after the battle the name was changed from Belleau Wood to “The Woods of the Marine Brigade.”
Thanks guys, I appreciate the support! And I apologize; regarding my comments on the popularity of these batreps, I didn’t mean it in a “woe is me” sort of way, just a statement of fact that these Operation Chunky Bandit batreps haven’t enjoyed the same level of popularity (as determined by views on my blogs and comments on the various forums and blogs) as some of my other batreps, such as KG Klink, Cold War, and the Black Ops fights. Operation Chunky Bandit started as a goofy little set of fights, then somehow expanded into this giant enterprise (somewhere around 50 fights now); it’s been a lot of fun for me, but hasn’t drawn as much interest as some of the other things I’ve done.
Thomaston – I was thinking interpretive dance, but I’ll see what I can do 😉
Darby – Cuban High Command is definitely feeling the strain of supporting the Expeditionary Forces deployed to South Leon and (don’t forget about) Cronistria, particularly now that the Americans are calling on them to join with the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ for Desert Shield/Desert Storm.
Thanks again guys, hope you love them, and more to follow. This mini-campaign was a total of 30 fights (still haven’t typed all of them up), taking Operation Chunky Bandit to a total of 56 fights.
I haven’t posted any batreps in awhile, been busy with real life. That and these batreps haven’t proven to be particularly popular, so combining those two factors and adding the fact I need to get the rest of the Chunky Bandit batreps posted in order to move the story forward and get on to other things, I figured I’d post a bunch of batreps. I hope you enjoy; a pic to refresh your memory:
Troopers of the South Leon Army launch a mechanized counterattack to eject the Communist forces from the village.
Op CB 39
2330 on 4 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #13
SLA A Company vs FSNL 6th Company
Op CB 40
0630 on 5 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #14
SLA B Company vs FSNL 2nd Company
Op CB 41
0800 on 5 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #15
SLA A Company vs FSNL 8th Company
Op CB 42
0830 on 5 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #16
SLA D Company vs FLA 1st Company
Op CB 43
0930 on 5 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #17
TF Bowie vs FSNL 4th Company
Op CB 44
0930 on 5 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #18
TF Hawk vs FSNL 7th Company
Op CB 45
1000 on 5 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #19
TF Hammer vs FLA 5th Company
So, I hope that makes up for lost time and tides you over for a bit, I’ll be back with more soon.
I’m okay, Old Man, just been busy with ‘real life.’ And you have my email address and cell phone number 😉
Kyote – Indeed! 😉
Rod – Glad to see you’re still kicking, I love how you resurface every six months or so to surprise me 😉 Negative, KG Klink will not be heading to North Africa; my original intent was for that to happen, but then I bought a bunch of 10mm PzIVs with long 75s (and no schurtzen) and painted them gray, rather than brown, so KG Klink is staying on the Ost Front.
I am truly blessed, great times with the little guys. I hope all is well, and quit messing around and get back to your 15mm USMC in Afghanistan!
Thanks everyone, I appreciate the kind words and support!
Norm – We’ll see; it’s just that 10mm is so perfect for North Africa…
Whirlwind John – We are inextricably linked 😉
Kyote John – The boys really want to play with them, so batreps coming soon.
Tony – I apologize for the confusion; fourth time going 15mm WWII, but the first three times were all NW Europe, these are my first Western Desert forces in any scale.
Martin – Not madness to me 😉 But everyone has their own idea as to what they’d like their table to look like, just down to personal taste. Looking forward to your Benghazi Handicap battle reports!
Sane Max – I’m a big fan of the aesthetics of the Crusader, too!
Darby – Let’s go man, get off your butt, I wanna see some more SOG stuff outta you!
The HMMWV opened fire with its Mk-19, suppressed the T-72. The FSNL AGS-17 returned fire on the HMMWV as the enemy CO moved up and attempted to rally the suppressed tank crew, but failed (rolled 1S dice, got a ‘6’) and so the tank had to fall back a ‘normal’ move distance. Now the T-72 started the fall back only about 4” from its own table edge, so the failed rally attempt should have taken it immediately off the table, but I’m playing on a small table and was feeling charitable so I simply moved the vehicle to the table edge, so the Commies would potentially have another chance to rally it, but they didn’t as the dismounted .50-cal immediately got in on the act and scored another suppression, which forced the T-72 off the table.
Goodness… anything is possible, I suppose 😉
Just wait til ya see what I post next, even you shall be impressed! Well, probably not, but I’m quite proud of the accomplishment nonetheless.
Kyote – Yup.
Thomaston – Typical Commies 😉
I suppose I could do a better job of snazzing it up for the narrative, rather than just typing out what mechanically happened according to the rules. So change “…the T-72 was already suppressed and the HMG fired with 1S dice and scored a ‘6,’ thus compelling the vehicle to fall back off the table,’ I suppose I could write it up as “…the HMG engaged the enemy tank, wrecking the main gun’s optics and destroying the tank’s smoke dischargers, which caused a fire. The tank commander ordered the driver to reverse out and then set about extinguishing the fire, but then the HMG again engaged the tank, hitting the tank commander. The driver made a command decision to fall back in order to get the TC the necessary medical attention and get the tank back in good fighting condition.”
2130 on 4 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #12
TF Bowie vs FSNL 4th Company
Captain Madre-Animral leads his TF Bowie against the FSNL’s 4th Company, with whom they are very familiar. That familiarity is born of an absolutely ferocious battle the two held several hours earlier, literally fighting themselves to exhaustion. Unable to press forward yet unwilling to cede ground, both sides called for reinforcements and dug in. This is a simple attack/defend scenario; the Cuban goal is to crush their enemies on the way to the capital, the Communist goal is to hold the ground.
The Cuban attack jumps off (top left and bottom right).
Fierce hand to hand combat breaks out on the far left.
While the Captain Madre-Animral pushes his men forward on the right under heavy fire.
To see how the fight went, please check the blog at:
Next up we have the SLA’s A Company defending against an assault by the FSNL’s 6th Company.
“What does a squad/section do when it’s suppressed?”
To prove Martin’s point above, I think everyone is going to have their own expectations of what this looks like. From my perspective, taking fire does not equal having an impact on troops, it must be some level of ‘effective’ fire, which is as easy to define as… well, you get it. Man, we could fill pages talking about different variables within the immediate tactical situation and how they might affect men taking fire.
In terms of people being shot at, I’m pretty close to John’s ‘morale states.’ For me the lowest ‘form’ of being affected by enemy fire is what I call “pinned,” which means men go to ground and work to return fire. Then you’ve got “suppressed,” which means the fire is effective enough that the men have gone to ground and are only seeking cover, they are not (or are no longer) willing to return fire. To discuss men collapsing/running, here we really need to define what we’re talking about, real life or a wargame, and at what echelon.
As an example, I play what I call ‘perspective-based wargames,’ meaning if I’m playing a company-level battle then I am the company commander and I make decisions in the game at his level; I do not make decisions at the platoon commander’s or squad leader’s level, so when a squad is taking fire that is very effective, a unit can go from ‘happy’ to ‘suppressed’ and even falling back in a heartbeat. The point being, in my opinion, in real life, let’s say 95% of the time when a Western squad falls back in the face of the enemy it’s because the squad leader made a tactical decision that falling back was the best option available to him at that moment in time, not ‘the men broke and ran, completely routing from the battlefield.’ So in game terms, the dice results ‘decided’ the enemy fire was super effective against my squad and compelled that squad to fall back, even though I as the player/company commander did not want that to happen. In my view that was the squad leader exercising his own initiative; if we were playing a lower level game, where I’m now the squad leader, that changes how I’d look at things.
“In many games, suppressed squads can be ‘unsuppressed’ through leadership. In reality how often does this work, and how much time does it take? Many accounts say that once troops have gone to ground it’s hard to get them up again. Is this the same thing or something else?”
Again, too many options here. The short answer, I suppose, is yes, absolutely, small unit leaders can get their men up and moving again, sometimes even under very heavy fire; if that weren’t the case, units wouldn’t take heavy casualties, one guy would get hit and the entire operation would ground to a halt. Quite alarmingly, I’ve seen several accounts of this in contemporary engagements in Afghanistan; take fire, take cover, call for supporting fires, sit tight until it arrives, then police up the casualties and go home. Again, subject for another day.
In any case, in terms of ‘how does it work?’, well, that’s what I was talking about in my initial reply about ‘you can never have enough leaders.’ How it works is that small unit leaders have to get up, expose themselves to fire by moving amongst little knots of men and putting their hands on them to direct their fire and/or get them moving. My experience was that radio comms immediately breaks down once the gunfight begins; it’s not like the movies where guys are chatting back and forth, fire a couple rounds, chat some more, fire a couple rounds, chat. In real life most guys shut up once the shooting starts, they sure as hell don’t want to respond to queries, and they can’t hear you anyway because it’s not just a couple rounds flying it is a veritable cacophony, so the most effective means of communicating is moving to them and getting face to face.
So when you say “how long does it take?’, well, it depends on a whole host of different factors.
Again, if you’ve got particular situations in mind, please lay them on me and I’ll throw my two cents at ya, and if you do, please throw in the echelon we’re talking about (squad/platoon/company/battalion) as it certainly has an effect my answers.
Ian – Glad to be of service 😉 I quit smoking several years ago, it’s like a dear friend died, I still daydream about it…
Kyote – Cuban.
Thomaston – If I was wanting to cheat, the Cubans wouldn’t have been in that position in the first place! 😉
Whirlwind – Indeed, and to continue what I started in the line above, yes, my Cuba Libre stuff is often more cartoony, high risk-high reward stuff. In real life they should have broken contact and fallen back, but in these games, being so small and quick, and wanting to give guys the opportunity to heap glory upon themselves, I more often than not go for broke. I play the odds straight (if I recall correctly the CO charging up the hill was doing so at a -4) and sometimes you get super lucky. Hell, sometimes you get super lucky and keep rolling it; there are some really good fights in the future of this campaign, and there are some real stinkers that saw some Cuban legends made, looked like a game of Chinese Checkers…
1400 on 4 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #11
TF Bowie vs FSNL 4th Company
1st Lt Madre-Animral leads his TF Bowie straight east, in pursuit of the FSNL’s 4th Company, whom they defeated and forced to withdraw earlier this morning. This is a simple attack/defend scenario; the Cuban goal is to crush their enemies on the way to the capital, the Communist goal is to hold the ground.
The Communists push very strongly in the center (right to left).
And force the Cuban right.
Using textbook fire and maneuver in order to push the Cubans back.
Followed by vicious, point blank fighting on the Cuban left.
The Cuban CO launches desperate counterattacks to stabilize the line!
To see how the fight turned out, please check the blog at:
Here are the Turn 3 Map Moves:
Next up we have Captain Madre-Animral’s Task Force Bowie and the FSNL’s 4th Company having at each other again!
From what I recall, the Cubans were very effective at keeping the recoiless rifle team pinned down.
Some of it was dice, some of it was my initial deployment, which I apparently haven’t quite figured out yet. Kinda tough to pull off a fighting withdrawal on such a small board, me thinks. I did random deployment for the Cubans, and while it made things a bit less organized than normal, it still basically built up a defensive line opposite the enemy’s entry area. Again, I suppose the Cubans couldn’t have been too far from the enemy’s entry area, lest they begin the game only one move away from escaping.
So yeah, it was a pushover, the scenario just didn’t work the way I planned. And I apologize, but my excuse remains that when I’m playing out a 30-game campaign, some of the fights are not going to be as riveting as I’d like them to be, and I’m moving too fast (trying to get through 30 games) to re-play a battle. Obviously I don’t have to handle it in that manner, but that’s been my approach.
“Sometimes the bad guys just come in quite dumb I guess…”
I don’t think they came in dumb, I just don’t think there was a good way to come in at all, given the Cuban deployment. The two sides were starting on top of each other (in terms of ranged fire) and so it turned into a dice-rolling affair.
The games have been playing out between 45 and 90 minutes, more towards the lower end of the spectrum.
“And I’m not busy, I’m lazy.”
That’s why it was in quotation marks 😉
But knowing you, you’re probably doing it and just not telling us, waiting to spring the whole thing on us at some point in the not so distant future.
Don’t forget hermit crabs and Girl Scouts!
I tried to get him to do those 6mm figures in a dozen poses each, but he was too “busy” 😉
If I had but a fraction of his talent!
I agree on both counts.
1430 on 4 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #10
TF Razor vs FLA 3rd Company
Now we have Captain Soares’ Task Force Razor fighting a rear-guard action against the Free Leon Army’s 3rd Company. TF Razor is the other part of Task Group Fulgencio, which was cut off from friendly forces and is now fighting west to break out and return to friendly lines. Unfortunately the withdrawal was halted when FSNL5 decided to counterattack TF Redleg on Hill 261, which allowed the pursuing FLA3 to catch them.
This fight is occurring west to east (right to left), with the pursuing enemy insurgents chasing the Cubans, and the Cubans starting spread across the right half of the board and having to withdraw their forces off the left table edge.
The Cuban rearguard is strung out along the left as the Communists give pursuit from the right.
The Cuban MG Team (bottom center) catches three enemy rifle teams as they enter the village (top center)…
And roughs them up!
The Communists try to flank the Cubans with a Technical (bottom right), so we can have the obligatory rocket shot.
To see how the fight went, please check the blog at:
Next up we have Lt Madre-Animral’s Task Force Bowie in a re-fight against FSNL’s 4th Company. Earlier this morning TF Bowie defeated FSNL4 and forced them to fall back, and now they are in hot pursuit, hoping to roll them before they get a chance to recover.
Definitely food for thought, though I’m still not exactly sure how to pull it off.
“the initial pin reaction of troops who witness but are not themselves targetted by fire.”
My experience is this is very much dependent upon the experience of the troops being fired on. Once you are experienced you can identify exactly what is shooting, where it is shooting from, and who it is shooting at, pretty much in real time. There may also be a strange machismo in place as well that keeps veteran troops from ducking, where they’d rather make fun of boots than take cover themselves.
“BTW, I was only thinking of this in the case of previously unlocated enemies, or in the first round of enemy fire.”
Martin – Rereading my reply to you, I want to make something clear, please: when I said “…tie you up in a discussion if you don’t want to have one,” I meant that in terms of me being long-winded and that not everyone can/wants to devote a bunch of time to my silly ramblings on the internet.
Ivan – Yeah, Nuts!, IABSM (through its number of activations being lowered by casualties and shock), and, of course, your own NEiS all do that. For me, personally, I think it’s probably realistic to feel yourself (as the tabletop commander) becoming mired and unable to get things done, but it’s not particularly satisfying on the tabletop (for me). As I’ve said a million times, I’m much more a fan of the 5Core Kill/Shock dice and the immediate results/carrying out of results regarding casualties and morale.
I’ve also given thought to the idea of runners and other forms of communication. Part of the problem, to me, is that it could be incorporated into a platoon-level game, but would be more appropriate to a company-level game, but then it seems to me that should be done using individually-based troops, which is madness! 😉 The other issue is that using runners is a huge oversimplification; in real life you have a signal plan, consisting of various flares, smoke, even signal mirrors and flags, and then you (at least in modern times) have a no-comms plan for disasters (think of the British 1st Airborne in Arnhem), emissions discipline (“radio silence”), and comms-denied areas (EW/jamming). This would require players to actually formulate a plan prior to the tabletop fight starting; in this case, carrying out the plan is the (relatively) easy part!
John – I understand your point about this happening in local counterattacks, and this: “…with very brief exceptions (Kasserine, early Bulge, Korea) there haven’t been that many American units in these kind of bad situations…” may be true in terms of the defense, but my point above was that this will often happen on the offensive, when there is a misunderstanding or mis-appreciation of the terrain, or when a unit gets into trouble and instead of moving within the construct of mutually-supporting elements someone panics and makes the rash decision that the only way out of this mess (saving 1st Squad or 1st Platoon or A Company) is to send 2nd Sqd/Plt/B Co out and around, but now 2nd Sqd/Plt/B Co gets into their own mess and now both 1st and 2nd are being annihilated. When you read of attacks going in and being repulsed, suffering 60% casualties, sometimes this is what happened (sorry, I can’t quote any sort of percentage regarding how often that was the case).
“…lots of combats IRL are pretty much foregone conclusions.”
Man, that is not an idea that I can get on board with at all.
“And the very structure of a tabletop game tends to discourage the response of the odds look rubbish, I am withdrawing.”
Though I agree wholeheartedly with this; in real life most commanders are not willing sacrifice their men and thus allow/order their men to fall back when it’s clear they’re about to be close assaulted out of existence. I’ve never seen nor heard of a tabletop commander doing that, most of us are fighting tooth and nail, and if the game has Force Morale/a breakpoint we scream and holler that we could have won when it is reached and our force involuntarily ‘quits’ on us 😉
“…not just to make it a random event, but a situational one…”
I was thinking the squad leader/platoon commander would grab the nearest riflemen and tell him to go tell the boss ‘we’re in trouble and need help,’ then we would activate the runner each turn and track him across the table until he reaches the boss and delivers the message, then tracks back to the squad leader/platoon commander to tell him what the boss said.
Stephen – I’m sorry man, I have it but I haven’t played it, I’ve only read through it once when I first got it (maybe two years ago?), so I’m not familiar enough to answer those questions. If you go to Iron Ivan’s blog you can see some batreps that will give you an idea of how the rules work, which is what convinced me to buy them in the first place.
I don’t think they’re that bad. The first time they’re firing on a target I usually give them 1K 2S, then move that up to 2K 4S once they’re dialed in, even more if the target is troops bunched up.
Lefties, eh? Filthy! 😉
I like all of them, can’t seem to stop buying them…
“…a task that the rest of the company or battalion wasn’t in a position to support.”
I gotcha, and man, assuming we’re talking about an attack, obviously sometimes you find yourself in those types of situations, but that’s what we called ‘getting caught with both feet in the air,’ and can (and sometimes did) very rapidly turn into a @#$% sandwich. I can’t recall us doing it on purpose, but it often happens in urban environments where a support or reserve element is moving up to assist a unit in contact, but takes too wide a berth (gotta watch out for friendly fire in real life), or even gets lost, due to the narrow frontages you are generally confined to in a city, and now you have two or three elements (whether they’re companies, platoons, or squads at this point, doesn’t matter) that are left to figure out and take care of the situation all on their lonesome.
I just had a Eureka! moment; maybe this is why casualties are so high all the time on the tabletop? In real life, if you are properly supported and your company/platoon/squad gets into more trouble than it can handle, the commander commits more forces/supporting fires to extract the unit in trouble. In games you rarely see an element withdraw; on the tabletop, you’re playing a ‘discrete’ squad, platoon, or company-sized game, so when you get in trouble you’re stuck, all you’ve got is what is on the table, so you generally get annihilated, or something close to (though I must tip the hat to Chain of Command and Battlegroup for their ‘Force Morale’ concepts to help rectify this).
The only set of rules that I can recall handling this differently was Disposable Heroes 2; you and your opponent each command a platoon of infantry, but you really never have the entire platoon on the table at the same time. The rules make each side go with the doctrinal ‘2 up, 1 back,’ so in the standard ‘attack/defense’ game, the defender has a platoon of infantry, but starts the game with only one squad on the table (in the defense the platoon has two squads in the line, one in reserve, and they’ve opened their frontage quite a bit, so the attacker is striking the ground occupied by a single squad), and if you get in trouble you can call in the reserve squad, but it affects the victory conditions. The attacker begins with two squads on the table, and if things get out of hand he can call in the third, reserve squad; again, it affects your victory conditions. It’s an interesting idea, but obviously rather restrictive, and I don’t recall exactly, but it had some other parts designed to make the attacker push forward as rapidly as possible that I wasn’t particularly fond of.
Whirlwind John – I’m with you. Regarding “…Durham Light Infantry in WW2, and discrete platoon attacks weren’t that rare…”
When you say ‘discrete platoon attacks,’ what does that mean to you? Are you saying a rifle platoon stands detached and is going tromping off 5km away from the rest of the battalion and carry out some task, or do you simply mean the ‘company commander has given 1st Platoon the task of taking the farmhouse’?”
“…how much of the latest series of KG Klink or Cuba Libre can be easily broken down into the actions of the discrete sections/squads involved?”
In both cases one base=one squad/wpns tm/vehicle, so literally every single time two opposing stands came into base contact I could have set up a 2′ x 2′ table and played out a squad vs squad fight to determine the winner of the IABSM or 5Core Company Command game’s ‘close combat,’ rather than simply roll dice in accordance with the rules’ melee mechanics. I agree that how each opposing unit got into that particular situation was a result of complex interactions with plenty of other units, but once the attacker has closed with defender, everything else is out the window. In that immediate time span there is no support and there are no reinforcements, it’s five minutes of fury to determine who will be the last men standing. From my standpoint, it’s literally that simple and straightforward.
Steve – I’m a fan of all levels, they each have a special place in my heart 😉 I really enjoy your BKC games, but like I said, someday when I’m playing BKC and I have a Close Assault, I’d like to stop the BKC game and play a lower-echeloned game, rather than use the simple roll off for CA.
Martin – Indeed it is, and I hope I haven’t couched my comments in an inarticulate way, I was simply hoping to point out to folks that want to play squad vs squad tabletop games that there are certainly options besides ‘Sergeant, take your squad and patrol down to the river and back.’ And to that end, Darby put a lot more meat on that bone, anyway, I ended up getting off on a tangent about company-level tactics…
“Modern (Iraq, Afghanistan) is different as the troops are vastly better trained and equipped.”
I disagree wholeheartedly, but won’t tie you up in a discussion if you don’t want to have one 😉
I really enjoy you big battles, just saw you’ve posted another one and headed over now to have a gander.
Kyote – I had looked at the Gale Force 9 ones and almost bought them several times, but when Darby posted a photo of one of Sigil mats, I had to have one. Now I’ll have three… 😉
Thomaston – Yep. And Flashpoint gave me a bunch of left-handed M-79 grenadiers. Please tell that wasn’t really all it took for you to give up the ghost 😉
“Jack, although I agree that you can definitely do a section’s part in a larger attack (and I have done it), you do have to ‘bracket off’ quite a lot of stuff to make it work…”
Certainly, but for me it’s not so much ‘bracketing off’ as ‘skipping to the interesting part.’ 😉 Which is a joke, of course, you’ve seen all the company-level fights I play.
“…whereas you can do independent platoon and company attacks more often.”
I would submit that, particularly in WWII, you’re still having to ‘bracket off’ if you’re playing platoon-level. I would imagine that most actions are company actions, so in a platoon-level game you’re just playing as the assault platoon with maybe a machine gun or mortar from Weapons Platoon in support, using it on table because it’s cool but would be off table in real life as they’d be 500 to 700 yards away. I apologize, I’m certainly not trying to pick at you, I suppose I’m just trying to point is what each of us chooses to put on the table is all simply a matter of personal taste, and pretty much anything can be rationalized. Okay, not absolutely anything 😉
“And I think that more of what you say applies to post-1960s squads/sections than to WW2, as far as I can tell.”
I would like to clarify what you mean by this, but this is the internet and you and I have a large time difference, so I’m going to take a shot at this under the assumption that you’re disagreeing with the concepts of fire and maneuver as doctrine and as carried out on the WWII battlefield. Assuming that is the case (and I apologize if I am off base and your issue lies elsewhere), but I absolutely must disagree. It’s funny, I had this exact same conversation years ago on TMP when a guy told me WWII soldiers couldn’t do fire and maneuver because their weapons weren’t capable; my immediate reply was that there’s nothing high-speed ninja about fire and maneuver, it’s nothing more than a simple way of saying “you guys shoot while we run, and then we’ll stop and shoot while you run,” and it can be done with any projectile-type weapon that extends the range of a man beyond his fist, to include slings and rocks and bows and arrows. Anyway, back to the case at hand.
That infiltration stuff I wrote about in the company attack was thought up by a British officer and put into practice as ‘stormtrooper tactics’ in WWI, and Jary’s “18 Platoon” (admittedly, I have not read the whole thing, but from excerpts I’ve read and discussions I’ve had) references his version of platoon fire and maneuver as essentially “split the platoon in half, put all the Bren Guns in one half and use it as a base of fire to support the other half in closing with the enemy,’ with the final close assault occurring when he and a couple of his ‘gutful men’ reach the objective. Brecourt Manor is another example, and there are many more. Hell, look at the fact that every WWII army’s rifle squad/section is broken down into a machine gun team/group and a rifle team/group, and each of them wrote doctrine to support exactly that concept and table of organization!
We can absolutely have discussions about how effective this organization was (there’s a reason the USMC went with three fireteams of four men, each built around a BAR, and it’s had a lot of success), if the weapons of the day were appropriate to the doctrine, how many machine guns are too many machine guns (in terms of weapons organic to the rifle squad), if this is proper use of machine guns in any case, if troop training was sufficient to pull the doctrine off, if small unit leaders of the day were up to the task, etc…, but what I described above regarding a company attack is small unit tactics 101, straight out of the manuals.
Thanks man, I’m glad you enjoyed the batrep, that fight was a lot of fun, and definitely a close run thing.
Yeah, we even trained with M-60s (and later M-240s) to engage armor to force them to button up; if they kept coming they’d be easy to separate from their supporting infantry and so the riflemen were tasked to put an AT-4 into the, and a lot of people figured armor would back out without good tank-infantry coordination. It’s certainly what ours did…
I was never in a tank that was being fired on; I was on top of one once, on the back deck, during a fight, but that’s a story for a different day. I was also in a helo taking 7.62mm rounds once (at night, you could see the moonlight coming through the holes), and in an AAV a couple times when it was taking 7.62mm fire, us with our heads hanging out the air hatch… While those are not tanks, you definitely know you’re taking fire, and even in the track it was very uncomfortable, the crew was very keen on getting us dismounted in order to be reasonably sure no one was going to creep up and put an RPG into the damn thing. Yes, our heads all went down when we started taking fire… If you’re not familiar, this is what I’m talking about:
Sorry, but that was literally the only photo I could find where the track had the air hatches open and grunts with their heads popped out.
I would like to make a counterpoint regarding the idea of playing tabletop games echeloned at the squad level; it’s been mentioned several times that playing squad-level games is not fun or not accurate as squads would only act independently in order to carry out ‘patrols.’ On the one hand, that is doctrinally not true because squads also are called on to detach for other missions, such as to man outposts (the old ‘babysit a bridge’ or man an OP), to carry out security tasks (convoy/VIP escort, sensitive site security, such as a radio relay station), and they can be called on to carry out ambushes, particularly night ambushes.
Even this gets tricky as often that mission will be referred to as an ‘ambush patrol,’ in which case we’d have to break down the various types of patrols to decide which ones are, and which ones are not, suitable to be carried out by a single squad. For example a squad will regularly carry out reconnaissance, counter-reconnaissance, and economy of force patrols, but I’ve never heard of a single squad carrying out a combat patrol, those are typically done at platoon level, and sometimes even company-level, being multi-day operations.
On the other hand, and this is the point I really came to make: in my opinion it is not inaccurate at all to play squad vs squad, attack/defend games on the tabletop. If you understand how a company level attack works (in standard terms, a rifle platoon in the assault, a rifle platoon in support, and a rifle platoon in reserve), only one platoon actually has the job of maneuvering onto the objective, and once the assault platoon begins taking fire it devolves to squad/section fire and maneuver, then team fire and maneuver, and then individual fire and maneuver.
Obviously how all this goes down is dependent upon the strength and will of the defender; if the defender is relatively weak (in terms of strength and/or will to hold the objective), it’s quite possible they quietly endure the attacker’s preparatory and supporting fires, watch the enemy assault platoon advance into effective range, then open fire, forcing the assault platoon to react, then pull back. In that case, the assault platoon goes to ground/finds cover, returns fire, and the platoon commander either waits until the enemy fire stops and then gets his platoon moving again, or he commences squad fire and maneuver (one squad moves while two lay down fire). Seeing as how the enemy left, you end up with troops happily walking onto the now undefended objective, whistling as they go.
But if the defender decides to hold and fight for the objective, they continue to fire on the assault platoon, the platoon moves to squad/section fire and maneuver, and now the attacking squad begins team, and possibly even individual, fire and maneuver. So with the enemy being attrited by supporting fires and the ‘company attack’ taking fire and devolving into a low-level fire and maneuver, you can absolutely end up with the enemy having five or six guys holding onto the last vestige/key point of their defense (the rest having become casualties or having withdrawn of their own accord) being attacked by eight or nine guys that are the pointy end of that so-called ‘company attack.’
That is how company assaults are generally planned, and how they can go from “200 men in the attack” to only having a handful actually reach and take the objective. This assumes an assault is actually planned, not that some dumbass at higher headquarters decided that prep/supporting fires will take care of the enemy so just get your company on line and prance onto the objective, which time and again saw rifle companies in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam gutted as soon as they crossed the Line of Departure.
To play games like this you have to be willing to provide the appropriate backdrop to the fight; it’s not “1st Squad was detailed to launch an attack on Hill 181,” it’s “A Company was detailed to launch an attack on Hill 181. The CO designated 1st Platoon in the assault, 2nd and Wpns Platoons in support, and 3rd Platoon in reserve. 2nd and Wpns got into position and took Hill 181 under fire as 1st Platoon crossed the Line of Departure on line. 200 yards from the military crest 1st Platoon was taken under enemy machine gun and small arms fire; 1st Platoon’s Commander built up his base of fire with 1st and 2nd squads and ordered 3rd Squad to envelop; 3rd Squad advanced to within 50 yards of the objective before coming under fire. The Squad Leader established a base of fire with 1st Fireteam and led 2nd Fireteam into close combat. With 1st Fireteam laying down fire, Sgt Snuffy fired off a flare to order 2nd and Wpns Platoons to shift fire, then lead 2nd Fireteam (let’s call that a total of six men) forward, where they reached the left flank of the enemy’s defensive line;* in brutal, point-blank range combat Sgt Snuffy and 2nd Fireteam took the enemy’s far left bunker and began an enfilading fire on the rest of the enemy’s defensive line that compelled the remainder of the defenders to fall back, conceding the military crest. 2nd and Wpns Platoons shifted fire prior to 1st Platoon’s troops getting onto the objective, and once the objective was taken 2nd and Wpns re-positioned in order to provide fire to isolate the objective, 1st Platoon began consolidating on the objective, and 3rd Platoon began moving up to reinforce 1st Platoon on the objective (or even carry the assault on past 1st Platoon).
*Please note, the asterisk is where the tabletop action for the squad-level game would pick up. I finished out the narrative just to show how we would hope the company-attack concluded.
Thus we have shown how the company attack devolved into a squad-level game with six dudes per side 😉 On a side note, we could also talk about infiltration attacks, in which a company crosses the Line of Departure as a series of ‘cells’ (which are largely going to be squad-sized anyway) that work, typically in the dark to flow through the enemy’s defensive zone (the area they expect to occupy by fire) and into their defenses (the area they physically occupy) in order to flow into enemy rear areas and close assault defensive strongpoints without having been exposed to supporting fires and the defensive fire plan. But ultimately that would still allow you to play out squad-level attack/defend games as one of the squad-level infiltration cells are reached the enemy headquarters or a particular strongpoint needing reducing; even if the strongpoint was a large fortification (such as a blockhouse) housing a platoon-sized element, I would just play it that the infiltration squad has worked around to the rear of the blockhouse (that was the point of the infiltration) and is up against the rearguard element of the platoon occupying the blockhouse, with a further assumption that the defenders are now aware they are under attack and so the rest of the platoon in the blockhouse is busy firing on attackers to their front and are thus unable to reinforce their rearguard element.
One of my wargaming dreams goes something like this: I play out a division-sized action with bases that represent a company/battery (probably using Blitzkrieg Commander); when opposing units come into base contact, rather than use the rules mechanism for melee/close combat, I set up and play a company-sized game where one base represents a squad, weapons team, or single vehicle. As I play that game, if opposing units come into base contact I set up and play another game, this time at a squad vs squad level. Someday…
I hope this was useful for anyone considering playing squad-level games.
1330 on 4 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #9
TF Redleg vs FSNL 5th Company
1st Lt Ordonez is leading his TF Redleg west, attempting to breakthrough the Communist lines in order for TF Redleg and TF Razor to reunite with their Cuban comrades advancing from that direction. This morning they assaulted the rear of the FSNL’s 5th Company’s positions, tossing them a beatdown and forcing them to fall back to re-group, but the Cubans weren’t able to capitalize, having to move cautiously in the densely jungled hilly terrain, which allowed FSNL5 time to regroup. Not only did the Communists regroup, they have actually staged a counterattack, so Lt Ordonez quickly shakes his men out into a hasty defense (ambush mentality!) in order to throw back their assailants. This is a simple attack/defend scenario; the Cuban goal is to repel the enemy attack, the Communist goal is to destroy the Cuban force.
Lt Ordonez has the assistance of his Task Group Commander, Major Fulgencio, who has attached himself to the Task Force. Major Fulgencio is leaving Lt Ordonez in overall command of his Task Force but will assist as necessary, essentially performing as a second command stand in the game. This proved a winning combination as Major Fulgencio was key in breaking the enemy’s defense in the last fight, leading several close assaults that saw him awarded the Bronze Star w/V.
Cuban Marines push forward (right side of the photo) in the center, engaging an enemy outpost (top left).
The outpost is pinned (far right), but the enemy CO moves up and rallies them, bringing reinforcements.
So the Cubans move around the left flank (bottom center).
But they (top right) run into the enemy’s main line of resistance (left/bottom left).
So the Cubans (far right, bottom left) try the right flank…
The tough Cuban Marines defeat the enemy’s left flank (far left) and move up (center) on the enemy’s center position (right).
But the Communists launch a ferocious counterattack to shore up their line!
To see how the fight turned out, please check the blog at:
Next up we have Captain Soares’ Task Force Razor fighting a rear-guard action against the Free Leon Army’s 3rd Company. TF Razor is the other part of Task Group Fulgencio, which was cut off from friendly forces and is now fighting to break out and return to friendly lines. Unfortunately the withdrawal was halted when FSNL5 decided to counterattack TF Redleg on Hill 261, which allowed the pursuing FLA3 to catch them.
My understanding is that there is a huge loss of situational awareness that many times works to convince the vehicle commander that his best option is to pop smoke, pull back, and reassess the situation, rather than sit tight or charge blindly forward and run into threat vectors.
It was US doctrine to team wire-guided ATGMs (TOWs and Dragons) with heavy machine guns (M-2 and Mk-19) in Combined Anti-Armor Teams (CAATs); the HMG would open fire on the enemy tank to button them up so the crew didn’t see the ATGM launch, and then continue taking the tank under fire in order to keep them buttoned up while the ATGM was in flight, thus keeping the crew from returning fire on the ATGM or performing any radical evasive maneuvers (the theory being the crew could speed up or back up, but wouldn’t undertake any crazy turns without better views of the terrain).
Thanks, and yes, need lots of terrain in order to be able to do all that sneaking around, which has turned out to be very much fun. Yeah, my older boy has heard his Old Man ranting about various things and so he actually wanted to chop two men to go and recover Bravo 05 and move him to the LZ, but I told him not to as there wasn’t time as the helo was on the way, more bad guys were closing in, and I already had another idea on how to get Bravo 05 out of there.
“I have a sneaking suspicion you’ve dragged your kids into these games to train them.”
While they have both made claims to the effect of following in their father’s footsteps, who knows what the future holds, there’s a lot of time between now and then. Having said that, I do believe there is much to be said for a certain view of the world devoid of emotion and completely focused on setting and attaining goals, and the decision-making process in furtherance of that, and the planning and attention to detail that goes into it, so I don’t mind at all spending some time in an attempt to inculcate them with that mindset as I believe it will serve them well no matter what they chose to do.
“Did they get to make plans before the game?”
Nothing written, not a full 5-paragraph order, not a formal briefing, but they are required to come up with a general scheme of maneuver and walk me through it, at which time I talk them through the various factors they should be accounting for and redundancy/contingency planning. If you do it often enough it becomes second nature.
We’re hoping to play a couple more games this weekend.
Kyote John – Yeah, told ya the bad guys would get tanks.
Darby and Thomaston – Yeah, I have a habit of loading up against the Cubans whenever they get tanks, and/or making the Cuban vehicles do dumb stuff 😉
Thomaston – I’m an amateur, I don’t worry about logistics 😉 Besides, the United States is paying for it all. If you guys haven’t figured it out yet, the Cuban Expeditionary Force is essentially the American Foreign Legion!
Whirlwind John – “I was a bit surprised that the T-72 crew was that vulnerable to suppression from the Marders.”
I dunno man; there’s not much of a chance, but at that range there was even a chance of the 20mm auto-cannon opening up the T-72, and so I think there’s definitely room for a crew to be suppressed, which in this case contextually means ‘reacting to enemy fire in a defensive manner rather than performing in an offensive manner, and able to be compelled to withdraw if the same volume and effectiveness of enemy fire is sustained.’ So the game mechanic is the Marder is firing with 1K 1S and rolled a ‘6’ on the Shock dice, suppressing the tank. If the Marder fires again and rolls another ‘6’ on the Shock dice the target would fall back. That matches my expectations based on discussion with US Army and Marine tankers/mech guys, as well as books by Peters and Coyle; it seemed Bradleys expected the above to happen at close range had the Cold War gone hot, and it actually happened when Marine LAV-25s (of TF Grizzly, if I recall correctly) did it to Iraqi T-72s in Desert Storm.
“On a strategic level, I think the Communists should re-organize and re-think. They clearly aren’t getting very far with their current organizations and tactics…”
Not in the cards, the Cuban blitzkrieg is moving too quickly. Besides, their current organization and tactics brought them all the way to the South Leonian capital city 😉 And what did you expect, that I would lose a bunch of these battles? 😉
1330 on 4 Aug 1990
Mini-Campaign Fight #8
TF Hammer vs FSNL 3rd Company
Major Chavez leads his TF Hammer in pursuit of the FSNL 3rd Company, which has previously been defeated by TF Hammer, was forced to retreat, ran into the SLA’s D Company, was defeated again and was forced tp retreat. The overall Task Group commander, Major Halabrio, has decided to attach himself to the assault element, leaving Major Chavez in overall commander but willing and able to assist as necessary, functioning as a second command stand for the Cubans.
This is a simple attack/defend scenario; the Cuban goal is to crush their enemies on the way to the capital, the Communist goal is to hold the ground.
Cubans rolling in heavy for this fight!
But so are the Communists…
The advance gets under way.
To see how the fight turned out, please check the blog at:
Next up we have 1st Lt Ordonez’ TF Redleg defending against a counterattack by the FSNL’s 5th Company.
Thanks, Stephen, for the link, I’ll have to check the video out.
As I’ve mentioned, mostly I like simple, clean rules that focus on the tactical decision-making, but sometimes I get a hankering to play something a bit more detailed.