In this specific case the NATO forces receive intelligence on a Warsaw Pact ammunition dump and proceed to attack it in force.
Each mission offers up an “Aftermath” dialogue at the beginning which details what would have happened in a real life event: in this case the Americans probed the location, backed off eventually but left the area with a hailstorm of artillery fire falling on the Soviet supplies.
I am playing the scenario in full 30 minute (simulated) turns. There are a total of 24 turns however this mission will be done long before that.
NATO units are intended to use stealthy movement by default which enables them to utilize any available local cover and concealment to optimal advantage while moving. Warsaw Pact forces typically put a premium on high speed movement and overall formation cohesion so they would generally not utilize stealthy movement
Order of Battle
This is a highly generalized representation of the actual forces, and does not indicate which ones are later turn reinforcements.
For this scenario I will have 57 M1A1 MBT’s as front line units at the start, with none scheduled as later turn reinforcements.
The M901 Hammerhead is a self-propelled AT vehicle that features two TOW anti-tank missiles.
For this scenario I will have a total of 12 M901 vehicles as front line units.
The M270 MLRS is an off map heavy rocket artillery unit that fires 227mm rockets as well as FASCAM.
For this scenario I will have a total of 3 M270 artillery units that are subject to counterbattery fire.
Pregame Setup Phase One
This is the pregame setup phase where I can take the default disposition of forces and drag and drop them where I like within the blue bounding box. The game map replicates an area of the western portion of the Federal Republic of Germany measuring 20 km X 15 km, while each grid square represents 500 meters.
NATO has Victory Points available in Sector 4 (50) only. The Warsaw Pact has points available in Sector 4 (170) only (this will be a bloody battle). Points are awarded for the destruction of enemy units and the capture or clearing of specific map quadrants (objective sectors).
“Occupying a Quadrant” means having a preponderance of force as measured in unit steps in that quadrant. All that is required is that one side has even one step more than the other for it to be considered occupied. “Clearing a Quadrant” means reducing the number of enemy steps in that quadrant to below 10.
I can only win this decisively if I attack the Soviet position and destroy enough of their vehicles (steps) in Sector 4 to below 10, or their total force on the battlefield to below 20% in order to trigger the offer to end the battle.
Pregame Setup Phase Two
There are a lot of units on the map this time so I have to move them all off to one corner and rearrange them in a configuration that makes sense for the opening move. My basic intent is to utilize Task Force 3-8 (the mechanized infantry) to probe due east to the bridge crossing at grid 29-6, and Task Force 1-68 (the tanks) to move southeast to make a river crossing at 34-17 in order to attack north into what I hope to be the left flank of the Soviet defensive arrangement.
Each Task Force has three reconnaissance units that I position up front and give move orders to in order to scout the route forward for minefields and enemy concentrations:
- The Task Force heading east is broken up into two components: an assault force consisting of two mechanized infantry battalions that will cross the river into the enemy rear and two that will be held on my side of the river as reserves. Both groups will have M901 Hammerhead AT vehicles working with them in the assault and reserve roles.
- The Task Force heading southeast is issued move orders with the Stealthy Movement default selection unchecked to allow for them to race forward without delay. My concern with this approach up front is that the force will coagulate at the bridge crossing points and be a prime target for a neutralizing artillery barrage, minefield, or a flight of attack aircraft (but it is a risk worth taking).
The two headquarters groups are brought up to retain Command Radius influence over their organic units.
The various off map artillery assets are ordered to deploy FASCAM at several bridge crossing points as well as around the large patch of heavy cover in the objective sector.
At the end of the first turn the movement southeast by the armored task force has been extremely successful as no units have been sighted by the enemy during the turn. In the northeastern part of the map several enemy units were detected and engaged (note that the FASCAM in the middle of the map is actually Warsaw Pact minefields that have been detected by the reconnaissance units).
Losses: NATO (3) Warsaw Pact (18)
Additional Orders: some HQ units had to force move due to their SOP Doctrine (of not allowing an enemy unit closer than a certain distance) and have become orphaned from their line units which will required additional movement orders.
The armored task force attempting to cross in the southeast has been sighted yet is managing to make the river crossing without noticeable loss. In the northeast there is a large contingent of Soviet vehicles that have been revealed and the back and forth engagements have been harrowing. The off map NATO artillery had been quite busy, accounting for numerous kills.
Losses: NATO (11) Warsaw Pact (102)
Additional Orders: at the end of the turn I receive reinforcements in the form of two flights of AH-1F Cobra attack and OH58C Kiowa observation helicopters. These units are moved directly east to detect and engage any Soviet forces that may have slipped behind the LOS of my advancing forces.
There is a heavy concentration of enemy vehicles at the bridge crossing by grid 30-6, so I order an MLRS Neutralizing Fire barrage before, at, and ahead of that grid. The M109 A2/3 battery that has remaining FASCAM is ordered to deploy it at the indicated grids, and some straggler HQ’s are ordered towards their line units.
I would eventually max out the orders I could give due to the medium electronic warfare settings of the scenario.
During this turn a massive amount of Soviet vehicles were effectively trapped at the bridge crossing by grid 30-6 and suffered tremendous losses. The armored task force that crossed the river to the southeast successfully turned north and made a second uncontested river crossing into the what now appears to be the left flank of the enemy main force, wreaking massive destruction as they moved forward.
Losses: NATO (31) Warsaw Pact (170)
Additional Orders: for the second turn in a row an enemy HQ was detected at grid 36-5 drawing a high priority fire mission from the AI. I order the MLRS battery to barrage that location with a Neutralizing Fire barrage. A and B Companies of the 1-68th that have crossed the river to the south are ordered to assault forward to further degrade the Soviet position.
Note in the screen shot the amount of forces in OB list in red indicating that they are out of ammunition.
Some mechanized infantry units were able to cross the river however they were immediately engaged and suffered extreme losses (perhaps it would have been better to hold them at the bridgehead to serve as a clamp for the armor units in the southeast).
Losses: NATO (38) Warsaw Pact (188)
Additional Orders: an additional armor company is ordered to attack north towards the last reported location of the enemy HQ, grid 37-4 (note the extreme amount of message traffic from the Warsaw Pact on the task bar).
A stack of units that includes some resupplied M901 Hammerheads is ordered to the bridgehead to block any Soviet escape movement across, and the helicopter flights are routed forward.
During turn five I would receive notice that one side has exceeded 80% casualties amongst their line units, and given that the Victory Point balance meter on the task bar is at 86% in my favor I decide to accept the offer (to end the battle and avoid chasing straggler units around the map).
The premise of the scenario was that of a NATO commander operating independently and without specific mission orders, and I believe locating a Soviet force and destroying 80% of its assets is quite sufficient in that regard.
Furthermore I had yet to detect any losses during the turn resolutions due to the presence of air attack assets such as on map Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters and/or off map Mig-23 fighter aircraft, and without any dedicated anti-air defense assets on my side I did not want to push my luck with so many undefended and exposed M1A1 MBT’s that would be prime targets.
The game ends in a Tactical NATO Victory outcome (I felt I had a legitimate shot at a Decisive Victory so this is somewhat disappointing given the amount of damage I dealt to the enemy).
A player wins decisively if he nets 180 points or more over the enemy. 105 points or more is a tactical victory, 30 points or more is a marginal victory, and any other result is a draw.
The Staff Overview and Summary reveals the final score as 216-40, a difference of 176 points (four points short of a Decisive Victory). The unit loss during this scenario was severe, with NATO losing 40 units and the Warsaw Pact losing 196.
The Tactical Operations Center Staff Diary details the number of survivors and the effectiveness of each unit.
The standout units of the battle were 1st Platoon, A Company, 1-68th Task Force (four M1A1 Abrams MBT’s) that accounted for 14 total kill claims without losing a single vehicle, the three batteries of off map M-109 A2/3 Howitzers that accounted for 36 total kill claims at the loss of eight units, and the MLRS battery that accounted for 23 total kill claims at the loss of one unit.
Review Final Situation
The Red Army was pinned at the bridgehead, flanked, and then compressed which led to its overall destruction and the end of the battle. Perhaps if I was more aggressive with the MBT’s in the southeast by having them assault forward one turn earlier I may have picked up some additional kills that could have put me over the edge for a Decisive Victory outcome.
Once again a battle occurs on a recycled map, and all of the action is forced to one corner. As mentioned in the last post, this seriously restricts movement and options for both sides as there are two false walls that are created. The map designer would have done much better developing a series of map slices (of a greater map area) that the action could be centered on (considering most of these scenarios have both sides fighting for control of the same primary objective sector).