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Sabres at Dawn AAR - BrotherSurplice vs Rinaldi (H2H)

BrotherSurplice

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Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone. This is an AAR of a PBEM played with the British Forces module of Combat Mission: Shock Force. The scenario is "Sabres at Dawn" - I am attacking with a British light armoured reconnaissance force and @Rinaldi is defending with a Syrian reserve mechanised infantry force.

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So, without further ado, let's do a quick analysis of the situation. My primary task is to attack and clear a compound known as the "East Yard" approximately 500m to the North-Northeast of my deployment zone. My secondary task is simply to destroy the enemy in the field. I must not suffer over 20% casualties and must have my force "arrayed for future operations", which presumably means I must keep ammunition expenditure to a reasonable level and have as little vehicles immobilised as possible. My force consists of light armour and mechanised reconnaissance infantry, supported by ATGM teams and rotary-wing assets.

My enemy is defending positions in and around the East Yard, north of a deep irrigation ditch running west-east across the Area of Operations (AO). Intelligence states that there are no enemy units South of the irrigation ditch. Presumably, given the low quality of my enemy's units, his intent is to hold his position for as long as possible and bleed my forces as much as he can before being eliminated. Enemy forces are estimated to be a platoon-sized force from a reserve mechanised infantry battalion equipped with BMP-1s. It is possible that they may be supported by ATGM teams. Due to my enemy commanding a reserve unit, it is likely that the equipment, training and leadership of his units are of a low quality. However, several things should encourage me to caution. Firstly, my own force is small and very light, designed for reconnaissance, not assaults on fortified positions. The BMP-1 is not a fearsome machine in Shock Force, but even its low-velocity 73mm cannon can easily pop any of my vehicles if it can land a hit. Secondly (and more importantly), Rinaldi is a highly skilled and experienced player of Combat Mission. I myself have very little experience, with only two other PBEMs under my belt (one of which ended prematurely because my opponent got bored, the other of which ended with Rinaldi kicking my teeth in). I can expect my opponent to quickly develop a very clear appraisal of the situation, with great knowledge of the capabilities of both his and my own units. He will likely try and engage me at as short a range as possible to try and offset the advantages that modern optics and firepower give me. He will be on the lookout for any weakness or mistake and will exploit such opportunity ruthlessly. I must be very careful if I am to avoid being severely embarrassed here (doubly so, as Rinaldi takes great pleasure in denigrating the fighting ability of my countrymen :p).

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Now for the terrain. The AO is small, only about 350x600m. To my immediate front and right, the ground is open and rises steeply, before gently falling off to the north. To my left, the ground rises more gently, with an MSR running North-South and a small Orchard running North along the edge of the map. The aforementioned irrigation ditch runs east-west, bisecting the AO. The briefing informs me that the ditch is unfordable, with only two crossing points, designated Tweedledum (to the north-west) and Tweedledee (to the north-east).

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North of the irrigation ditch, the terrain becomes more complex. There is a small compound immediately North and to the left of Tweedledum, known as the "Tool Houses". North of the Tool Houses there is a gentle hill, designated "Point 228".

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Immediately North of Tweedledee is my objective, the East Yard, a sprawling compound of one-storey buildings. North of the East Yard is another hill, designated "Point 225". Both Point 228 and 225 are covered in trenches. There is a thick haze covering the AO, the temperature is warm, the ground is very dry and there is a medium breeze blowing from the west.

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Finally, a view of the AO through the eyes of my enemy. He has some excellent positions to take advantage of, with a large obstacle to his front, the complex semi-urban terrain on his left and right, and elevated fighting positions to his left-rear and right-rear.

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Now to identify the key terrain (KT) of the AO. The first KT is the hill immediately to the front and right of my deployment zone. This is one of the highest points on the map and will provide excellent sight lines and fields of fire to the North.

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The second KT is Tweedledum and the Tool Houses. Tweedledum is one of only two points where the irrigation ditch can be crossed and the Tool Houses could provide cover and concealment for forces defending the crossing point. The Tool Houses could be a good place for a forward observation post.

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The third KT is Point 228. this hill provides sightlines and fields of fire across almost the entire AO, and the reverse slope offers an excellent place to conceal forces, for ambush or counterattack. Any advance towards the East Yard will be enfiladed by fire from Point 228.

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The fourth and final KT is the East Yard and Point 225. The East Yard is my objective and must be cleared, but is also likely to be the toughest nut to crack. If he so wishes, Rinaldi could hide units deep in this compound as my units approach, before making a potentially devastating point-blank ambush. Point 225 provides good lines of sight over the open ground south of the irrigation ditch and would make another good location for an observation post.

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Now for a detailed assessment of the force at my disposal. I command a small company-sized force from "A" Squadron of the 9th/12th Lancers. Firstly, we have the Command Troop with the Squadron Leader and Second in Command (2iC) mounted in Sultan APCs. A Tactical Air Controller team is mounted in a Spartan APC and will be directing the fires of a single Apache gunship.

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Secondly, we have 1 Troop, consisting of four Scimitar light tanks. These little fellows are fast, agile and equipped with a hard-hitting 30mm autocannon. They wield the heaviest firepower of my force but are very lightly armoured, only really able to resist small arms fire.

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Thirdly, we have the Support Troop, consisting of the command team and four four-man scout teams, all mounted in Spartan APCs. Each scout team has a SAW, a sniper rifle, an under-barrel grenade launcher and three light anti-tank weapons (LAW). These infantry teams will be needed to clear out the East Yard and conduct dismounted reconnaissance, but are all very fragile. This is undoubtedly the most vulnerable but also the most important part of my force.

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Last, but definitely not least, we have the Guided Weapons Troop, consisting of two Javelin teams mounted in Spartan APCs. Each team has five missiles. The Javelin is an excellent weapon, accurate and very hard hitting. These teams will likely be the best option for knocking out AFVs and other hard targets.

Troops thus covered, all that remains is the time; it is currently 0530 and I have 50 minutes to complete my objectives. Phew, so much for a quick analysis! I still haven't really thought much about what my enemy might do or made a tentative plan yet. However, this post is getting rather long so I shall leave that for my next entry. Stay tuned!
 

BrotherSurplice

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Morning/afternoon/evening everyone! I return, with the second entry of the AAR.

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In the interests of keeping the amount of "filler" entries low, this post will cover both my initial plans and the first few turns of the engagement.

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Reasoning that it is somewhat pointless to come up with a detailed and intricate plan without having any knowledge of Rinaldi's dispositions, I'll develop my plan as I conduct a reconnaissance. This initially consists of my four scout teams moving forward dismounted, two moving into the high ground on my right and two straddling the MSR on my left. Each duo of scouts is backed up by their APCs and a section of Scimitars, who will follow up to lend support to the scouts when they encounter opposition. The Javelins are deployed mounted up to my extreme right. I am also moving the tac air controller team in the centre, to take up position on the high ground to my front.

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Now, onto my plans thus far. My task (and that of my enemy) is simplified somewhat by the terrain; the irrigation ditch running across the AO limits me to just three axes of advance. The first axis (the arrow marked '1' on the map above) is a simple advance straight down the middle, over Tweedledee and into the objective. The second axis is a left hook, going over Tweedledum and following the MSR to the objective. The third axis is also a left hook, but even wider; going over Tweedledum and then occupying Point 228 before descending the hill to make a final assault on the objective. Whichever axis that I choose will be supported by a base of fire on the high ground to my front and right. My force composition also limits my choices; with a grand total of 16 men making up my whole infantry complement, I can only really afford to choose one axis for my main effort.

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"Whichever of you mugs is humming the Jaws theme best pack it the 'eck in . . ."

Now, to go over the pros and cons of each axis.

Axis 1 - Pros:
- Most simple of the three plans
- Will take the least time to prepare and execute
Cons:
- Can be enfiladed from enemy positions at the Tool Houses and Point 228
- No concealment or cover; the ground leading to the objective is completely open
- Open to fire from the South side of the objective and from Point 225
- All potential enemy positions at the Tool Houses, Point 228 and Point 225 will have to be suppressed for the final assault on the objective, as well the objective itself
- Attacking from the same position as my base of fire allows the enemy to concentrate all his fire in one direction

Axis 2 - Pros:
- Will neutralise any enemy positions at Tool Houses
- Provides some cover and concealment from enemy positions in the objective and Point 225
- The enemy is forced to split his fire between my base of fire and the manoeuvre force (or shoot at one and not the other)
Cons:
- Is enfiladed at very close range by enemy positions on Point 228; Point 228 will have to be suppressed while the plan is being executed
- Will take longer to prepare and execute; more distance has to be covered
- Vulnerable to a counterattack from the reverse slope of Point 228

Axis 3 - Pros:
- Will neutralise enemy positions at the Tool Houses and Point 228
- The enemy is forced to split his fire between my base of fire and the manoeuvre force (or shoot at one and not the other)
- Provides an additional place from which the objective can be overwatched
Cons:
- Advance up the slope of Point 228 will be enfiladed by the objective and Point 225
- Assault on the positions at Point 228 could be costly and very time consuming
- Vulnerable to a counterattack from the reverse slope of Point 228
- Will take the longest amount of time to prepare and execute

Each plan has some pretty big cons, which is somewhat concerning. I do know one thing though: whichever plan I go with, and however my enemy responds, the objective is going to be swarming with enemy troops. Thus, the objective is going to be smothered in fires, from both my base of fire and my rotary-wing support.

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And as always, the enemy gets a vote. I made some analysis of the enemy in my last post, but a few things have occurred to me since then. He may have minefields, in which case there is a 99.99% chance that they will be placed on Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and if he has enough of them then there'll probably be some in the entrances to the objective too. Minefields will make my job much harder and without engineers there is, to be frank, jigger all that I can do about it other than grit my teeth and push on through. Freezing up and trying to find another route would give my opponent a wonderful opportunity to inflict heavy losses on me (Rinaldi isn't an amateur; if he has minefields, they'll be covered by fires). The enemy may also have indirect fire support. Each Syrian Reserve Mechanised Battalion gets a platoon of six 120mm mortars and each rifle company within the Battalion gets a section of two 120mm mortars. It is entirely possible that Rinaldi's platoon has the company mortars in support. If I get pinned down or take too long to move from one spot, those 120mms could do some horrendous damage to my small force. Now, that said, Syrian call-in times for indirect fire are quite simply diabolical; in a previous match that I played, it took my Syrian Special Forces forward observer team seven minutes to call in a barrage from a section of 82mm mortars. I can't imagine what the call-in time for a reservist mortar section must be like. If I keep moving, any potential mortars shouldn't be an issue, but it is still something to keep in mind.

So far I still can't make up my mind about which of my potential schemes of manoeuvre to go with. All of them are equally unpalatable. My force has does not have sufficient firepower to suppress every potential enemy position and all it takes is one lucky close-range volley from an enemy position to make one of my infantry teams combat ineffective, or to knock out one of my Scimitars. All I can say at this stage is . . . a mortar! A mortar! My kingdom for a mortar!

But alas, it is pointless to screech about what I don't have. You play the hand that you've been dealt. At this stage, I believe that more reconnaissance is needed before I go through with any of my plans. I can at least move the units that will form my base of fire into position (the Javelin troop and at least two Scimitars) while my scouts move forward.

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And finally, at 42:13, contact is made with the enemy! Scout Team 4, moving up along the road on my left, takes fire from their front. They swiftly identify their assailant as an MMG team, hunkered in a trench on Point 228. Sadly, I hadn't been paying enough attention to the micro terrain, as Team 3 on the other side of the road are in the low ground of the orchard and can't see the hill. So much for bounding overwatch!

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The sniper in Team 4 is already taking aim at the MMG team before the turn ends, but I decide that a four-man scout team getting into a shootout with an MMG is a mug's game, so in my next turn I order them to drop down and crawl back behind the curve of the hill, while I move my Scimitars forward and get Team 3 into a position where they can actually support their pals over the road.

Right, this post is at a good length now, and I've covered all of my planning so far. First contact with the enemy is a good point to end on I think. Thanks for all the feedback so far everyone!
 
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BrotherSurplice

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My apologies for the wait for this third entry. Making an AAR is a lot more time consuming than I had first imagined! On the plus side, I've progressed quite far since my last post, with far too much content for this one instalment alone, so entry four should be along shortly after this one.

I hadn't mentioned that the enemy might have medium or heavy machine guns in my first post, but I had been thinking about it, so this discovery of an MMG team comes as no surprise. Each Syrian mechanised infantry company comes with a weapons platoon made up of two sections, each of which is made up of two MMG teams. I can expect there to be at least one more team out there somewhere, and maybe two others if Rinaldi has the whole weapons platoon.

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As mentioned, Scout Team 4 has pulled back rather than duke it out with an MMG team. The two Scimitars following them are actually unable to draw a line of sight to the enemy position, but the other two on the hill to my front are able, so I order them to open up on the enemy trench with their machine guns. Their supply of 30mm HE is embarrassingly small and I want to save it for harder targets (namely, the buildings in the East Yard), so I use the 'Target Light' command. Their fire is inaccurate, as word of the enemy contact hasn't yet filtered through the C2 network and thus they don't yet know that there is an MMG team occupying the trench. However, it should be enough to force the MMG to keep their heads down, at least for now.

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Meanwhile, my Tactical Air Controller team has moved forward and is calling in support. I am hoping that the Apache will be able to sniff out some of the enemy BMPs, so I order a heavy strike to cover the entire enemy side of the map.

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Scout Team 3 moves up out of the orchard to the edge of the road and spots another enemy unit, an ATGM team hiding in the cover of a berm running along the centre of the far side of the irrigation ditch. Another of my suspicions are confirmed!

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A Syrian mechanised battalion has a single weapons company, which has a single platoon of ATGMs. This platoon, like the company-level weapons platoon, is made up of two sections, each made up of two teams. As with the MMGs, I can now expect at least one more ATGM team and up to two others if the whole AT platoon is present. Scout Team 3 begin firing at the enemy team, and although their line of sight is quite poor, they are able to make the enemy duck for cover.

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However, as my scouts take potshots at the ATGM team, they come under fire from another MMG team, occupying a trench close to the other spotted MMG.

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The Scimitars on the left, which had moved up and began firing at the first enemy team, are swiftly retasked to deal with this new threat. They are eventually able to suppress the second MMG.

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As this is happening, my Apache is making his first attack run. The first missile he launches is unfortunately intercepted by a tree, but the second slams into a building in the objective.

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Next up, a rocket barrage on the objective . . .

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. . . followed by a rocket barrage on the Tool Houses and the berm.

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The second rocket attack bears fruit, as I observe flames and smoke from a point behind the Tool Houses. A BMP knocked out, perhaps?

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As a parting gift, the Apache subjects a building inside the objective to a burst of cannon fire, before finishing its mission.

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As the match goes on, I am continually scanning the battlefield, analysing and re-analysing the terrain and my positions. I spot a couple of things; firstly, the hill to my front is not providing me with as good a line of sight as I had first thought it would. The slope on my side is very gentle towards the summit, and so my infantry teams are taking forever to get eyes on the objective. My vehicles are far too visible for my liking as well. Secondly, my first suggested axis of advance may have more cover than I realised. A spur of the hill juts out towards the objective, pictured here. The ground to the right of this spur is slightly covered from Point 228, at least initially. Perhaps Axis 1 is a better course of action that I first thought?

So far, things have been going mostly my way. Units are moving up, I've spotted an ATGM team before it could ambush my units, MMG teams have revealed themselves at no cost to me, and banter with my opponent reveals that the helicopter strike hurt him quite a bit.

However, I am soon to be reminded that the enemy always gets a vote . . .

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fabishd

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"Making an AAR is a lot more time consuming than I had first imagined!"

Welcome to the rabbit hole!

This is a great AAR. I especially like your re-assessments as you gain more knowledge of your environment. A brilliant nail biter to end on!

@Josey Wales

I agree with your comment. @BrotherSurplice great job in gaining enemy intel by your units movement & observation. Your plan is only the baseline from which all updates occur after bullets are exchanged. Per Sun Tsu, terrain is neutral and the person who uses it best gains the advantage over his opponent. Keep up the good AAR.
 

BrotherSurplice

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Gosh
Fungling
Darn it



I knew that I'd kept that Scimitar exposed for too long. I knew that I hadn't checked the lines of sight of my other units on the hill. I was just thinking 'my Scimitars are pretty vulnerable there, I'd better pull them back soon'. Then whoosh! Crack! Bang! The Troop Leader's Scimitar is a smoking wreck and no one even saw where the missile came from. How very irritating. The only saving grace is that the whole crew escaped with only minor wounds. I think that the missile was launched from a trench on the eastern slope of Point 228, so I spray the offending trench with machinegun fire from my Scimitar and APCs.



Shortly after the Scimitar is knocked out, one of my APCs observes a couple of men from a Syrian infantry platoon HQ moving through the East Yard. As expected, this means that Rinaldi has likely emplaced his infantry platoon inside the East Yard.



Happier news from my left, however, as the enemy ATGM team under attack from my scouts suffers a casualty.



Meanwhile, the two scout teams on my hill are nearly able to get eyes on the objective.



More intel comes in, as the first enemy ATGM team is seen withdrawing and an ATGM platoon HQ is spotted. So, Rinaldi does indeed have the whole ATGM platoon in support. There are three other teams out there, somewhere.



The first enemy ATGM team unmasks once more and an MMG platoon HQ is spotted. So, along with his infantry platoon, Rinaldi has both an ATGM platoon and an MMG platoon.



Amazingly, a BMP-1 zooms by as well, making a beeline for the far side of Point 228. Sadly, my Scimitars are pulled back and my Javelins are not yet in position, so I am unable to punish this risky move.



The MMG team spotted earlier suffers a casualty as it comes under fire from my forces on the hill and is forced to hide once more.



The loss of my Scimitar and all the enemy forces revealing themselves rattles me, and I make what may prove to be a very hasty decision. I elect to go with Axis 1; I will assault the East Yard by making a frontal attack with my scout platoon over Tweedledee, with my remaining forces in a support by fire on the hill overlooking the objective. I made this decision because I was becoming concerned with the remaining time available to me and because the BMPs now in position on the reverse slope of Point 228 would make an advance along the main road or an assault on Point 228 too risky. I begin pulling the scouts on the left back to their APCs.



Meanwhile, the scouts on the hill are able to identify the burning vehicle behind the toolhouses; it is indeed a BMP-1, knocked out by the rocket strike from my Apache.



The first MMG team is spotted making run for it, heading for the more solid cover offered by the berm. Whether this a panicked flight or a deliberate move is unclear.



Another BMP-1 is spotted moving for the cover of Point 228, this time from behind the East Yard. Frustratingly, my units are still not in a position to take advantage of his vulnerability.



The redeployment of forces from my left to my right is in progress. My scout platoon is far too small to make an attack with anything less than full strength and I want my other two Scimitars on the hill. From now on the Scimitars will all act as one unit. If any other ATGMs take a pop at one, I want the other Scimitars to see it.



The redeployment is nearly complete. The Javelins have finally dismounted and are heading for the overwatch positions currently occupied by my scouts. The rest of my force is on the reverse slope of my hill, hidden from the enemy (hopefully). They are very tightly packed though. If Rinaldi has mortars, now would be an excellent time for him to use them . . .

Well, that was an unpleasant few turns. One of my most potent units was taken out at almost no cost to the enemy. Many enemy units revealed themselves, with me unable to actually do anything about it. There are at least two BMP-1s, probably more, now safe and sound on the reverse slope of Point 228, in an excellent position to launch a counterattack. Also, my concerns about the time remaining are actually pretty unfounded. I still have thirty minutes left, over half the time allotted to me. I have committed myself to a course of action unnecessarily early. It's time to slow down, take a few deep breaths, and re-analyse the situation.

My mission has not changed; I still need to occupy the East Yard and inflict casualties on the enemy. I've inflicted a few casualties on the enemy, but nothing decisive yet and obviously the East Yard is yet to be occupied. My picture of the enemy is much clearer now; I know that his rifle platoon is highly likely to be positioned in the East Yard, and I know that he has an MMG platoon and an ATGM platoon scattered about Point 228 and behind the berm. Importantly, a look at the editor gives me some good news; the ATGM platoon is actually made up of only one section, with three teams, as opposed to two sections each of two teams as I had first assumed. I know that he has lost a BMP-1 and has at least two others behind Point 228. If he has his full complement of BMPs, that means that he started with seven; three for the rifle platoon and two each for the weapons platoon and anti-tank platoon. It is still possible that my enemy has mortar support, though I feel that if he had them, he would have used them by now. I still do not know if the crossing points are mined. The terrain remains the same, largely. The most important things of note are the discovery of a partially covered route to the objective and my understanding of the slopes of the hill overlooking the AO. Bar the loss of one of my Scimitars, the situation of my own troops has changed very little; no casualties have been taken thus far and ammunition expenditure has been low. I have thirty minutes left to complete my mission, over half of the initially allotted time.

So, apart from my picture of the enemy and the loss of a light tank, little has changed from the beginning of the match. I haven't really hurt the enemy yet, but I still have a decent amount of time left to finish the mission. I am still going to commit to option one for my plan of attack; it allows for the best concentration of force and is the least vulnerable to a counterattack from those BMPs behind Point 228. For the next few turns, however, I am going to continue trying to shape the battlefield. With my Javelins in overwatch, I should be able to splatter any weapon teams that reveal themselves. I'll periodically unmask my Scimitars and APCs, in an attempt to try and provoke some movement or counterfire from my enemy. When I decide that the enemy has been sufficiently weakened, then I'll make my final assault on the objective.
 

fabishd

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Bad luck on losing the Scimitar, but on the plus side I think you have gained a huge amount of info and the discovery of the partially covered route could prove key.

@Josey Wales Again I agree with your comments.

@BrotherSurplice Given your enemy info update, your best overwatch folks are your Javelin teams now that they are in position. Your best firepower asset is your Apache support. You might want to use it either to expose the BMPs (taking them out or force them into your Javelins) or to flush the enemy platoon int the town (to all of your overwatch force).

If you have any indirect artillery assets, how you want to use them in the next half hour will be critical (smoke Point 228 while assaulting or part of the assault by peppering the town before your troops get there).

You have some tough decisions to make in the next 5-10 minutes. Good luck and good killing.
 

BrotherSurplice

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This is beginning to really irritate me now.

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With my Javelins in position on the forward slope of my hill, I am swiftly rewarded with the sight of an ATGM team perched in the bushes atop Point 228. I expect the Javelin teams to use their launchers and wipe the enemy team off of the face of the Earth, but instead, the idiots start plinking away with their rifles! I hurriedly give the team that has spotted the enemy a 'target' order on the offending ATGM.

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The AT operator finally puts away his rifle and takes aim with his launcher. I anticipate the thunk-whoosh of the missile launching, but all I hear is the chatter of incoming machine gun fire. Before he can fire, the Javelin operator is critically wounded by the next burst from the enemy MMGs. My first casualty, and all because the stupid bloody Javelin men decided that it would be a splendid idea to use their rifles instead of their honking great missile launcher. This is exceedingly frustrating.

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The offending MMG team and his platoon HQ are spotted on the edge of the berm.

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Another enemy ATGM team is spotted making a run for the East Yard. All of my vehicles are currently behind the slope of my hill, so once again I am unable to do a thing about this.

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The round of frustration isn't over yet, as one of my withdrawing scouts is shot in the back by another burst from the MMGs. My second casualty, and this time I have no one to blame but myself. I should have used the hunt or slow command, but I wanted to get the teams back to their APCs without exposing the APCs too much, and also these scouts are exhausted from creeping forward all the way from my start line.

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I creep my three Scimitars forward and subject the location of the ATGM team to a few bursts of 30mm HE. The time for conserving ammo is gone. Unfortunately, before the Scimitars get into position, I spy the ATGM team crawling away to safety.

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This time, however, Instead of leaving the Scimitars in one location, after about twenty seconds of fire I pull them back and relocate. Then I roll them forward again and give the location of the machine gun a similar pasting.

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The enemy AT platoon HQ is spotted running for the East Yard, and I have a pretty good idea of what building they ran to. A future target for a Javelin missile, perhaps?

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The ATGM team on the hill is spotted again, in an alternate position. Thankfully, the Javelin team elects not to open up with their rifles this time! I order the team to target the enemy ATGM. Second time's the charm?

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This time though, I'm going to be more careful. I send the Scimitars forward again, to a position where they can see the berm. If that MMG team reveals themselves again, they'll be in for a rude shock . . .

This has been a highly irritating and frustrating few turns. By the quirks of the game and my own mistakes, I've suffered my first casualties of the game. This is not an auspicious start to my first proper engagements with the enemy. Hopefully, however, the next few turns will be better. Finger's crossed . . .
 

BrotherSurplice

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In the last entry, things were not going well for the 9th/12th. I suffered my first casualties and the enemy managed to escape unmolested (again). But over the next few turns, I feel the pendulum swinging in my favour once more . . .



My Javelin men take aim at the enemy ATGM team. The missile pops out of the tube and howls skyward like a bloodhound let off the leash. I believe in you, little missile!



I never asked for this.



The missile plops into the berm at the foot of Point 228. If the enemy doesn't kill the rest of my Javelins, I bloody well will when this is over. Fortunately, my Scimitars have spotted the ATGM team and a hail of 30mm HE bursts all around them. No casualties are caused, but the terrified gunners flee, leaving their weapon behind.



Suddenly, as the turn comes to a close, another enemy ATGM team takes a shot at my Scimitars! This time, however, the offending team is spotted. If you look closely, you can just about see the missile speeding towards my tanks.



Fortune is with me, as the enemy missile is fired short and crashes into the hill crest in front of my armoured troop. The turn ends a second later, and I rub my hands with glee as I mark the enemy weapons team with target orders from all three tanks.



I breathe a sigh of relief as the cannon shells evenly distribute the enemy gunners about the road and buildings. My Scimitars withdraw behind the slope of my hill, having at last avenged their troop HQ tank.



Time is ticking on, and I need to start prepping for my assault on the objective. Confident that the threat from enemy ATGMs is now minimal, I move the Scimitars forward again, to a position where they can overwatch the East Yard. I also move the APCs up to my withdrawing scouts. The exhausted sleuths eagerly embark their battle taxis, glad at the chance for some rest before the final effort.



I now begin to soften up the objective itself. Remember the building that the enemy platoon HQ team entered earlier? Well, so does my Javelin team . . .



This time, their aim is true and the roof of the small hut is stoved in. If anyone is in there, I would not want to be them right now.



I move my tactical air controller forward and call in my Apache once more. This time, I will focus his attention on the East Yard and Point 225. He has little ordnance left after the first attack run, so this strike will likely not be as devastating as the first. But any fire on the objective at this point is welcome. It will take four minutes for the strike to come in, and I estimate that it will take around two to four minutes to be completed, so I call the strike in with eighteen minutes left on the clock. This should leave me with ten to twelve minutes to make my assault. If the enemy has been suppressed, I am confident that this will be enough time to clear the yard. Now all I can do is wait . . .



As the turns tick by, one of my Scimitars picks up an unidentified contact in a trench on Point 228.



I am leaving nothing to chance, so I subject the contact to a twenty-second burst of HE from my tanks. There was something in that trench and whatever it is will now be severely discomfited.



The gunship arrives over the objective and subjects the western edge of the yard to a rocket strike.



It then follows that up with a burst of cannon fire . . .



. . . and then hits the eastern side of the yard with cannon fire too.



The gunship has hit those buildings with cannon fire twice now, so I reckon that there's something in there. I order my Javelin teams to hit the two buildings with missiles.



The gunship makes its last run a spectacular one, as it hits a spot in the western edge of the yard with a cannon burst. This spot promptly explodes and begins burning. I immediately guess that he has found and knocked out a concealed BMP-1.



The Apache returns to base, ammunition well and truly depleted. The dust begins to settle over the East Yard once more, and quiet descends across the AO. There is a pregnant pause. It is almost time . . .
 

BrotherSurplice

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I love the ebb and flow in this game between despair and delight.

Up the 9th/12th!
:D Hope I'm doing the regiment proud!

Very enjoyable AAR, as I don't know squat about modern weaponry, this is informative.
Thanks very much, glad you've been enjoying it. To be fair, you could replicate this fairly easily in one of the Second World War titles. Just replace the ATGMs with AT guns and the helicopter with fixed-wing air support. I suppose the only big difference is the quality of vehicle optics and the ubiquity of electronic communications.
 

BrotherSurplice

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And now the end is near,
And so I face the final curtain . . .



The time has come for the final assault. The Scimitars trundle forward and start pelting the buildings of the East Yard with 30mm HE.



Unfortunately, there is some fratricide as a cannon shell bursts on a tree next to my Javelin men, wounding one. Another mistake, I should have pulled the Javelins back by this point.



The APCs of the Command Troop and the leader of the Support Troop zoom up and start hosing down the objective with their machine guns. The scouts charge forward in their Spartans, machine guns blazing as they go.



Sound the charge!



As my APCs close on the objective, an enemy MMG section rises from their trenches on Point 225 and begins shooting up my APCs.



The armour of my APCs is mostly proof against MMG fire, but one enemy team lands a hit that damages the optics and tracks of one of the Spartans. He is spooked and begins to pull back, but fortunately not before dropping off his dismounts. I retask some of my APCs and tanks to suppress the MMG teams.



The Support Troop spot a knocked out BMP-1 in a keyhole position. So that's what the Apache was shooting at! It is fortunate that the BMP is knocked out, as this would be a perfect position to ambush my scouts as they go in.



Two scout teams pour fire into the objective, while the other two teams hurl themselves across the bridge.



The amount of lead flying around is truly awesome, even this little attack making a brilliant spectacle. However, I am taking almost no fire. Where are Rinaldi's men?



The enemy weapons platoon HQ makes an appearance, taking potshots at my scouts as they cross the bridge. Fortunately, he misses all his shots and is taken under fire by the APCs.



The first evidence of the enemy positions is uncovered, as my scouts trample over the remains of a rifle squad.



In the next building, almost an entire rifle squad is found cowering on the floor, terrified and helpless.



The ensuing slaughter is horrifying to behold.



My scouts bound through the East Yard, pouring fire into every unsecured building before advancing. The base of fire continues to suppress the enemy machine guns on Point 225. But apart from the enemy rifle squad, all we find is empty buildings and bodies.



A brave little BMP-1 rolls forward from the reverse slope of Point 228 and puts a few 73mm shells into the ground before my scout teams. Fortunately, his fire is ineffective.



Honour thus satisfied, his fear overwhelms him and the BMP withdraws.



My opponent has known for a long time that the game is up and he requests a ceasefire. I accept and am rewarded with a Total Victory. Hurrah for the 9th/12th!



I am chatting with Rinaldi as I take these last few turns, and the reasons for the lack of opposition are revealed to me. Rinaldi's men have been routing from the field ever since the first Apache strike. As can be seen from the victory screen, almost half of his force has abandoned their positions and fled the battle. One of the BMPs that withdrew behind Point 228 was actually abandoned by the crew, as the panic spread through the enemy C2 network.



The only enemy troops still left on the field are one of the MMG teams on Point 225 (the other fled) and the brave takfiri of a BMP behind Point 228. Rinaldi had told me earlier that some of his men had routed from the Apache strikes, but I had no idea that his situation was this bad.

My elation at this victory is tempered by the knowledge that my opponent was essentially helpless to stop the near-total disintegration of his force from a single helicopter strike. Nevertheless, I am pleased that I managed to lose only one vehicle and take only three casualties. Things could have gone so much worse for me.

I plan on doing one more post after this one, where I shall make, in effect, an AAR of this AAR, analysing what went well, what went poorly, what I did correctly, what I did wrong, etc. I'll finish with observations gleaned from the battle. Also, now that it's all over @Rinaldi can come in and give some input from his perspective. Stay tuned!
 

Rinaldi

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Hullo everyone! I've already weighed in over at www.battlefront.com but I figured I'd belatedly post my thoughts on this fun little match here; naturally the comments allude to some things I read over at the latter site that don't apply here:
----

First off, a good game to @BrotherSurplice - its always a pleasure doing a match with him. Suffice to say I think he has avenged our last PBEM quite well. I've taken the time to read through the AAR and everyone's responses:

On 4/11/2018 at 6:11 PM, Sgt.Squarehead said:​
Ah.....The Orange Exclamation Mark Of Doom!
Once that starts in conscript units it spreads like wildfire.....Very realistic IMHO.​

I agree - you fight with what you're given, and in this instance it wasn't much. Nothing to be done about that but try one's best. Command and Control was fairly decent when the platoon leader was alive and I was able to run him about. Once he panicked however (two turns before the final attack), it was all over but for the crying. As for round two...watch this space. It's my turn for a picture + post AAR shortly.

I noticed there's a lot of people in the thread pointing out potential overmatch or difficulty for one side or the other - well, we like tactical problems, not ladder-style tournaments. A lot of people in our little group of PBEMers have no problem playing unbalanced matches. Our reasoning is straight forward (1) some tactical problems don't have breezy solutions in reality, (2) humans are always better opponents than an inflexible AI plan and (3) we're fine with winning or losing well, rather than the bottom line. I wouldn't take away from Surplice's victory.

I'm really impressed with his performance over all. He's relatively new to the series but he's already grasped how to develop a plan of action with consideration for terrain and how to keep courses of action open - in other words, he had if not articulated a decision matrix. My only criticism is that he didn't roam far enough with his rotary-wing support. In the end it didnt matter, as my BMPs were neutralized through other means, but the fact that I was able to dash two BMPs under his very nose to potentially a dangerous position should have caused a redirection of assets.

As to my dispositions: The hill was tempting but I realized my forces weren't worth a whit and holding it would have been suicidal. Given that the handful of units I placed there had to displace and were on the verge of panic after some desultory fire, I stand by that decision. The berm was the single most useful piece of terrain and I regret not arraying all my ATGMs there as a battery (something I normally do with Eastern ATGMs). As it was, the usual tactic of potshotting with ATGMs in obscure positions only exacerbated their inexperienced crews and allowed for overmatch of return fire with the Scimitars.
 
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