Flashpoint Germany A Few Good Choppers

The following after-action report details a scenario from the US V Corps mission set. I had previously completed the first and second scenarios from this set some time ago, but playing as the Warsaw Pact commander. In this scenario I will be playing as the NATO Force Commander. There are two versions of this “Scen 3” from the mission set: v1.1 and v1.1-alt. There is no explanation in the briefing as to the difference between the two and both appear to be virtually identical from within the game itself.

The only difference that I can detect between the two scenarios is in the pregame setup phase where the normal mission has several of the counters stacked, and in the other mission they are spread out into different grids (but within the same bounding box).

There is no difference in starting forces and there are no reinforcements to be concerned with. Given that the player can freely drag and drop the counters in this phase without penalty, there is practically no reason to play one version over the other, so this AAR will effectively serve to cover both scenarios.

The basic premise of this mission is that the Warsaw Pact Commander had to detach a part of his group to deal with the loss of Norderfurt in a previous scenario, and the remaining understrength component was to be laagered in the town of Ensbachling. While this was underway the Americans had sent the attack helicopters of the 11th Armored Cavalry forward in search of the reinforcement group, but they instead stumbled across the 28th Guards Tank Regiment moving towards its defensive position.

Game Options


I am playing the scenario in full 30 minute (simulated) turns. There are a total of 20 turns however this mission will be done long before that.

Realism Options


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.

In this specific scenario, since the entire on map NATO force is airborne the stealthy movement option would have no actual effect as helicopters ignore all terrain costs when moving and are assumed to be fly at an average of 15 meters above the ground.

Order of Battle


There are a number of screens relating information regarding the scenario before the game begins, one of them being the OOB for the friendly forces. Here I have the 4th Squadron of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment which consists of the following:

  • 3 UH-60A Blackhawks serving as the HQ unit
  • 8 OH-58C Kiowa Observation Helicopters
  • 6 OH-58D Kiowa Observation Helicopters
  • 7 AH-1F Cobra Attack Helicopters
  • 9 AH-64A Apache Attack Helicopters

Off map assets include one flight of two A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack aircraft and one battery of nine M270 MLRS artillery.

Critical Units


The AH-1F Cobra is a second line attack helicopter and features TOW ATGM, 20mm Gun, and 2.75" Rockets.


The AH-64A Apache is a first line attack helicopter and features Hellfire ATGM, 30mm Autocannon, and 2.75” Rockets.

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. I can also issue orders at this point that will be executed immediately at the start of the game (and avoid the command lag time penalty and the staff order point costs associated with giving these directives).

Objectives


While there is virtually no intelligence available as to where the enemy is currently positioned, I do know that their sole objective is to occupy Sector 2, which also happens to be my only task.

The objective of each scenario is to clear and/or occupy specific sectors. Cleared simply means that there are fewer than ten enemy steps (vehicle units such as tanks, HQ, helicopters, etc.) in a sector, while Occupied means that there are more friendly steps in that sector than enemy.

Pregame Setup Phase Two


Using the free drag and drop and no cost orders of setup phase, I move the units to the top right corner of the blue bounding box and issue movement orders to fan out the Kiowa’s ahead of the Cobra’s, who in turn are out in front of the Apaches. The HQ unit of Blackhawks is brought in behind all of this to where the attack helicopters are within its Command Radius.

I also order an A-10 sortie at grid 31-9 and an MLRS barrage of FASCAM at grids 26-7, 27-7, and 28-7.

Combat Action


At the end of turn one, there is a string of enemy vehicles that have been detected by my forces.

Losses

NATO = 1
Warsaw Pact = 15

Additional Orders

A-10 airstrike at grid 27-6 and additional MLRS FASCAM deployment at grids 23-7, 24-7, and 25-7.


At the end of turn two three of my attack helicopter troops are out of ammunition and have moved back towards the HQ unit to rest and refit, while several of the Kiowa’s have force relocated due to the default unit Doctrine in place, which is to not let an enemy unit come within 2,000 meters (each grid represents 500 meters).

Losses (cumulative)

NATO = 2
Warsaw Pact = 46

Additional Orders

Apache troop to assault grid 20-6, and placed additional FASCAM at grids 21-6, 21-7, and 22-7.


At the end of turn four there is a prominent line of mines running along one of the main roads into Ensbachling.

Losses (cumulative)

NATO = 3
Warsaw Pact = 49

Additional Orders

Two Apache troops to assault forward, and placed additional FASCAM at grids 17-9, 18-8, and 18-9. An A-10 airstrike was also ordered against grid 19-9.


At the end of turn four I begin reworking some of my units that have had to resupply or were pushed away due to Doctrine back into the objective sector.

Losses (cumulative)

NATO = 3
Warsaw Pact = 62

Additional Orders

Various movement orders to attack and observation helicopter troops.


At the end of turn five there are no spotted enemy steps (vehicles) within Sector 2 or anywhere else on the battlefield.

Losses (cumulative)

NATO = 3
Warsaw Pact = 69

Additional Orders

Additional move orders as with the end of the previous turn, as well as FASCAM deployment at grids 19-8, 19-7, and 20-7, and an A-10 airstrike called in on grid 19-8 (a guess that is somewhat improved by allowing for a two grid discretion range).


At the end of turn six the bulk of my helicopter force has been moved away from the objective sector due to supply and doctrinal issues.

Losses (cumulative)

NATO = 4
Warsaw Pact = 77

Additional Orders

Additional move orders as with the end of the previous turn, as well as a suppression artillery barrage on the three visible enemy counters (I have run out of FASCAM).


At the end of turn seven the first Warsaw Pact helicopter appears in the southeast of the battlespace.

Losses (cumulative)

NATO = 4
Warsaw Pact = 79

Additional Orders

Additional move orders as with the end of the previous turn (the HQ unit of Blackhawk helicopters is currently selected and the highlighted area indicates its Command Radius). I am attempting to put some of my forces back into the objective sector in order to influence the outcome as the VP Balance meter on the taskbar is not always indicative of the final resolution of battle (as it is based on the facts as I know them to be at the time).


During turn eight I would receive an offer to declare the battle over as casualties among line units of one side have exceeded 80% (I choose to end the battle in most instances).


I am quite disappointed with the Marginal NATO Victory outcome however and suspect this is because I did not have enough units within the objective area when I accepted the offer to end the battle (even though the VP Balance meter on the taskbar was at 96% NATO at that point).

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.

After-action Reports


The Staff Overview and Summary reveals the final score as 96-4. NATO lost four total units (all were off map artillery units that were subjected to counterbattery fire after having been revealed by high message traffic during artillery barrage requests). The Warsaw Pact lost 88 total vehicles, a stunning defeat at the hands of a helicopter squadron that would not lose a single aircraft to their AAA batteries.


The Tactical Operations Center Staff Diary details the number of survivors and the effectiveness of each unit.

Q Trp At / 4-11th ACR (five AH-64A Apache attack helicopters) were absolutely devastating having racked up a total of 27 kills, 22 of them being Soviet MBT’s.

The various A-10 Thunderbolt airstrikes were also very effective having destroyed a total of 18 vehicles, 14 of them being MBT’s.

A number of Warsaw Pact vehicles were also lost due to the minefields that were deployed along the main approach to the objective area. These kills are accounted for in the off map artillery unit A Btty / 1-32nd FA Bn who lost four units to counterbattery fire, however killed 13 Soviet vehicles (including eight MBT’s).

Post Mortem

This was somewhat of a strange scenario in that the on map NATO forces consisted entirely of air assets (a mix of attack, HQ, and observation helicopters). I appreciate that the helicopters are not abstracted to the level of the A-10 flights in the game (which virtually serve as an artillery unit in implementation). However the game is largely based on ground tactical combat, so it is somewhat odd that an entire scenario was devoted to a helicopter assault.

Once again, the electronic warfare setting of medium was ignored by the game.

This mission was played on 8/20/15 on a Windows 7 machine.

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