Joint Task Force Operation Distant Sweep

Mogadishu, Somalia: The JTF is deployed to the Somali bushes to capture and secure the transport that escaped in the first mission, Operation Swift Phoenix. The vehicles are located within the confines of a militia camp approximately 50 miles from the team’s current position and falls outside of the mission parameters, which requires a cover story of escorting an aid shipment to a Red Cross field installation.

This cover story is actually a large part of the mission, as getting those Red Cross trucks to the various villages to assist the local population is an optional objective of the mission. However as I found out it is not a requirement to keep all vehicles serviceable and actually reach all drop off points as I lost one aid truck yet still achieved the secondary objective according to the post game after-action report.

The first thing that I should mention right out of the gate is that this is a very long mission and attacking the various combat vignettes actually requires some thought and basic tactical maneuvering. Zerg rushing a group of soldiers into an objective area without supporting firepower can get them ripped to shreds in a heartbeat. The same goes for loitering in an area to make repairs and refitting the troops as the enemy will attack and make things difficult.


The mission briefing does a good job of outlining the ruse in place to assault the militia camp, and the graphic gives key information on how to handle the first real puzzle the game throws at you.


I am carrying three Deployed Officers throughout the mission, and each one of them will have a star graphic above their avatar in the game. It is my current understanding that the death of any of these “stars” (or heroes) results in immediate mission failure.


This image is from the opening cut scene of the mission which depicts the UN aid convoy coming under assault.


Major O'Connell, Hendrick “Mother” De Vries and Toussaint “Malade” Bernard start out with three M2A3 Infantry Fighting Vehicles and one HMMWV equipped with a mounted M2 Browning machinegun. 


There is an enemy mortar position on a hill that can only be assaulted by the boots on the ground (I tried sending an IFV up there but it wouldn’t budge).


Those IFV’s were instead sent to converge on the UN trucks and troops to assist them in repelling the Somali insurgents.


The convoy is secured and the mortar position is neutralized which completes the first objective of the mission.


The next two objectives are to cross the river (the puzzle part) and capture the airstrip, as well as escort the aid convoy to the nearby villages needing assistance.


I decide to spend some cash and bring in some additional Ranger units via the Blackhawk helicopter.


The ferry is on the other side of the river, and I could not simply deploy the chopper there as it was outside of the deployment range of the hero unit, Major O'Connell.


I create two four man Fire Teams of Rangers with AT weapons and grenades and embark them on the wooden boats littering the river bank.


The first boat is destroyed on the opposite bank by RPG fire.


The second team manages to disembark but is cut to shreds by RPG and mortar fire (I suck at tactics).


I load up my remaining Rangers and other units and pack them into another boat, but this one is sent way upstream and away from the hot LZ.


Rain begins to fall as the force disembarks on the bank and is concealed by the rocky cliffs.


Some hippo action.


I have the fire team low crawl from the crest of the hill through the available vegetation and approach this group of insurgents guarding the dock.


Those tangos are quickly dispatched while the hippos munch away.


The brief burst of fire from the unsuppressed weapons alerts a mortar team just off of the screen capture. They rain down indirect fire upon the dock as I race the team forward to board and commandeer the ferry.


The first M2A3 boards the ferry and prepares for the trek across the river. I will say right here right now that this game has been slammed for poor vehicle pathing capabilities, but the entire process of moving the ferry, docking it, loading a vehicle, transporting it and docking on the other side to offload the vehicle worked flawlessly and I did not have a single issue moving all of the required units to the other side.


Except for the mortar fire coming from the artillery position on the hill.


I disembark a group of mixed infantry units and have them rush the position, which draws out the enemy fighters and allows me to eliminate them as well as the D-30 howitzer emplacement.


The first Ural truck of the UN aid convoy reaches the opposite bank.


One of the damaged trucks is used to deliver their package to the first village secondary objective, which clears that circle from the map and detaches the vehicle as a controllable unit.


The HMMWV and remaining infantry reach the bank at which point I had a truck that was significantly more damaged than the one I left off on the opposite side (and should have used this one there).


I bring my three APC’s forward and engage the enemy forces aligned at a road block.


This action triggers an engagement with a truck hauling a machine gun and a BTR-80 which takes the coordinated fire of my three M2A3’s to destroy.


After that exchange, I send an infantry force on foot to the far west aid drop off point to scout/clear any resistance. This is a perfect example of my poor tactics (not providing any armor support). The group is immediately engaged by a variety of technicals and takes heavy losses (over half of the squad) before I withdraw them.


This is the airstrip that I have to secure to allow for the delivery of additional heavy vehicles.


The aid trucks and the HMMWV are linked together to form a convoy (I can give the move order to the lead Ural and everyone else will follow). This process works one million freaking times better than any vehicle convoy that could ever be implemented in the ArmA engine.


I move up an APC to the airstrip and offload the infantry units to engage the hostile forces in the area.


The cross the river and capture the airstrip objective is achieved and I receive a payoff of $250K.


The first unit to touch down is an M1A2 Main Battle Tank that will be needed to fend off any enemy heavy armor units.


The new mission objectives that are assigned: Defend the UN hospital compound and evacuate all medical personnel. This begins the most challenging sequence of the entire scenario. I also order up an FRSV Mobile Repair Station which is delivered by Hercules air transport.


The engineering units from the FRSV go to work repairing and rearming nearby units.


Giraffic Park J


I use the MBT to scout forward (without infantry support, again poor tactics) and it takes an RPG hit from one of the Somali fighters.


I utilize one of the APC’s loaded up with infantry and race it to the field hospital to engage the enemy that is assaulting that position.


We enter the compound to secure the facility and rescue the medical personnel.


Meanwhile, my aid convoy which is guarded by a single HMMWV comes under assault by heavy armor units (poor rear security, my units are spread too thin here).


While going back to the airstrip to grab my other armor, I notice that my repair vehicle has been destroyed by the armor force that bypassed this location to go for the aid convoy.


The lead Ural is destroyed as my armor group charges down the hill firing on the two tanks and UAZ scout vehicle.


After this wave is repulsed, I receive notification of achieving the hospital objective and am rewarded with an extra $350K in cash to refit and regroup.


The new objective is to destroy the enemy base and capture the trucks that escaped in mission one.


I move up Major O'Connell’s APC to clear out the eastern most village to deliver the aid onboard the UN trucks.


The Peacekeepers deliver their goods and I receive a payout of $112K.


Back at the airstrip with the radar trailer I order up a new FRSV Mobile Repair Station.


This allows me to repair the badly damaged Ural and keep the vehicle active long enough to get it into the next village.


My loan MBT has taken some losses and is down to only two crewmembers at the moment.


More troops are brought in by Blackhawk to augment my forces and replace the losses suffered as a result of my poor tactical decision making.


The vehicle ensemble is arrayed in a column formation to advance on the next aid drop off point.


I use the three APC’s I have on hand to leapfrog into the village and engage the Somali hostiles there.


They make quick work of several foot soldiers and a UAZ scout vehicle.


The last serviceable UN aid truck that I have is escorted in by the MBT and HMMWV.


The squad that I had on the hilltop to perform some overwatch is brought forward to link up with my main force in the village.


The Ural arrives to complete the aid convoy escort objective and I receive an additional $112K. With one village left to supply and no remaining UN trucks available (I lost one by leaving it grossly unprotected), the remaining village objective in the west is cleared from the map.


With the area secured I bring in the FRSV to repair and rearm the units.


With the armor units refitted, I bring them forward onto the final objective and immediately take artillery rounds from two locations, the enemy camp itself and another hill top position.


Here I neutralize the elevated threat by zerg rushing a group of mixed infantry onto the enemy location in a swarm that they cannot handle.


A second thrust by my armor units triggers and advance of several enemy MBT’s and a heavy exchange of cannon fire ensues.


These threats are dispatched but at a steep cost in terms of vehicle damage. My M1A2 is sitting at 54 of 300 health points and has to be taken offline for repairs back at the FRSV.


My infantry force that cleared the artillery on the hill is brought down on the opposite slope from the armor to encircle the enemy position. Here they move through the back part of the village the camp is in and clear out enemy combatants.


They are then used to scout forward and work behind the artillery position near the trucks under camouflage netting in order to assist in the final assault.


FRSV rinse and repeat: my armor units are refitted and brought back up for the finale.


The remaining infantry units press from the left and hammer the enemy position.


The armor units press from the right and mop up any remaining insurgents in the camp.


Major O'Connell investigates the cache and determines it to be some high-grade explosive material.


Unfortunately for the JTF two of the trucks are empty which extends this narrative.


General Cleveland looks an awful lot like Jabba the Hut.


With the trucks captured, the mission is finally completed.

After-action Report


All objectives have been satisfied and I lost two vehicles and 25 troops. The enemy lost 16 vehicles and 196 troops. During the mission I earned $1.1M and spent just a little less to keep the momentum going.

Post Mortem

Running FRAPS in the background at 3 second pulses, I ended up with over 1,700 screen captures to sort through, which I broke down into manageable chunks of nine separate phases of the mission so I could efficiently cull the fat and maintain the semblance of a coherent and progressive write-up. Each phase ended up with anywhere between 70 and 350 screen captures, which were further reduced to what was needed to communicate the results of this operation.

4 comments:

  1. I've got this demo sitting in my Steam account. I need to try it!

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  2. I've never heard of this before you blogged about it. Looks worth a try!

    ReplyDelete
  3. The best $2.49 I have spent in recent years.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am searching for players to try my maps done for this game. I want to create a group of enthousiasts to make more maps for this game I have about 150 maps, free if You have want to participate. E-mail me at ggrigg43@yahoo.com. I changed even the Artificial Inteligence of the computer units.

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