This week’s battle report takes us back to Bazistan. The last few battles have been pretty Special Forces heavy so this time we’re going to get the regulars on the table. This is also a chance to play some Skirmish Sangin without a giant plane sat across most of the table. Anyway, on with the battle report!
The contested zone between Bazistan and Aden has been the site of several attempts by international agencies in improve local conditions. One attempt in the 2000’s was the establishment of the Bazistan Agricultural College, including a modern educational building in the contested zone. The compound, co-sponsored by the Argo Corporation, would provide technical help to the locals farmers as well as a testbed for new techniques and varieties. Unfortunately, the building was started just before a rise in violence between the local tribes and the governments and so was left abandoned. The local farmers took over the fields around the building shell and continued to till the ground.
Unfortunately, the building, among others in the valley, have been taken over by one of the insurgent groups in region to use as staging positions when moving supplies and personnel into Aden. ISAF-AP have spotted the activity in the region and have ordered elements of the 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division to move down the valley. Starting the operation in the early hours of the morning, dawn is approaching by the time the first troops reaches the Bazistan Agricultural College.
The Americans in this battle were formed up in two groups:
Alpha – Squad Leader and two fireteams with the usual mix of weapons (Two M4s, a M4 with UGL and a M249). One of the riflemen is replaced by a marksman with his M21.
Bravo – Team leader, Combat Lifesaver, grenadier and M240 medium machine gun team. All of these are mounted in a M-ATV with a HMG
The objective for the US Army troops were simple – secure the area, destroy enemy assets and limit friendly casualties. These guys are the forward edge of a search and destroy mission.
The opposing force in this battle was one of the militia groups in Bazistan that has taken advantage of the porous state of the border. Several small groups were scattered around the main buildings with a mix of weapons from assault rifles up to RPGs (including a RPG 29). There were also a set of technicals, with two of them carrying HMGs to add some fire support. Two more acted as objectives.
The insurgents have also setup the area for defence. They have placed some small but potent IEDs in some of the fields (in order to take out people trying to sneak into the area). Additionally, mortars in other strongpoints are available to call in (assuming a forward observation roll is passed).
For this mission, the Insurgents know that the Americans are in the area. They are preparing to fire a rocket barrage from their technical which is a little unreliable. This is also a delaying action, so causing casualties to the oncoming force will give other strong points more time to prepare their defences. Evacuating supplies and fighters is also recommended.
This battle begins just after dawn. The American offensive began before the sun rose, with small units working quickly and quietly to overcome positions at the start of the valley. Just off-board, Alpha dismounted from their MRAP and began their advance on foot, trekking up to the edge of the wadi. On the road, Bravo moved slowly, looking for a good position to support the assault.
Inside the college grounds, the insurgents were preparing the rocket pod pulled from a Bazistan Hind. Although the system for firing had been used before, it was never 100% reliable.
The M-ATV arrives with the gunner swinging to aim at the shell of the Agricultural College.
A better view from above shows Alpha set up near the wadi while Bravo sat in their M-ATV (their presence in the drainage ditch is an illusion).
Eager to get in the fight and keep pushing forward, Bravo’s driver put his foot down and floored it. As they rolled down the road, the gunner shouts “CONTACT” after spotting two of the sentries close to the turning into the compound.
Hearing the news over the radio, Alpha decided to stay in the wadi and put the fire down, rather than the original plan of assaulting the compound. The marksman in the squad quickly found a target on the roof and, in an excellent bit of marksmanship, dropped him with a single shot. This alarmed the RPG wielding fighter behind him, who is suddenly distracted from the oncoming M-ATV to evade bullets.
However, the insurgents closer to the road were all ready to take on the armoured truck rolling towards them. One of the DSHK technicals rolled onto the road while the RPG-29 gunner set himself up ready to fire. At the same time, the M240 team disembarked from the MRAP and began to set up their machine gun.
Before anyone could take their shots, one of the grenadiers in Alpha dropped a 40mm grenade straight onto the technical. This blast ripped the vehicle apart and rendered it combat ineffective. While the crew dived for cover amongst the wheat field, many of the other fighters were disheartened.
However, the RPG gunner on the roof was more on the game and sent an RPG round flying towards the target. Despite the huge size of the vehicle, he missed sending up a plume of smoke next to vehicle. The shot wasn’t entirely ineffective though – the blast rattled the crew inside causing them to be stunned in place.
Two insurgents attempted to outflank the MRAP by moving along the drainage ditch, careful to keep out of the firing arc of the M240. However, Bravo’s grenadier (sat in one of the passenger seats) spotted the oncoming threat. In one swift move he disembarked, spotted the oncoming threat and took out both fighters with a single 40mm grenade.
The two lead sentries, shocked by the arrival of the M-ATV, had gone to ground in the crop field. For a few activations they were hidden away until Alpha spotted them and opened up with the M249.
Back on the road, things were not going well. After seeing the original RPG 29 gunner get cut down, another insurgent rushed to pick up the dropped launcher. Barely pausing, and limited by his skill with heavy weapons, this plucky insurgent sent another round towards the vehicle. Sadly it was ineffective causing nothing more than another nasty fright for the crew in the MRAP. Return fire cut this have-a-go-hero before he could reload.
I haven’t got a huge number of photos of this but throughout the game, Alpha squad were racking up a massive bodycount. Rather than advance, they simply sat back and used their high rifle skills and night vision to spot enemy targets an engage. The photo shows one of the main threats to them, a PKM team in the front building, after it was engaged by multiple LMGs, 40mm grenade rounds and assault rifles.
After an aborted attempt, the rocket pod suddenly sprung to life. With a plume of smoke and a scream of rockets, the insurgents completed one of their objectives by sending its deadly payload into the bulk of the American offensive.
Around the same time, a plucky insurgent armed with an RPG attempted a hit and run on the MRAP. This shot also missed but it did make the M-ATV realise that it maybe should move before one of the rounds actually caused some damage.
Having seen the rocket pod go off, the Americans were desperate to engage and destroy the launcher before it fired again. This lead to a rather hilarious situation where almost two full squads engaged an empty vehicle and managed to do nothing more than add some ventilation holes, wreck the interior and blow big chunks of dirt up.
On the other flank, the green technical had been attracting ineffective fire from Alpha while distracting them from the escaping supply truck. As the rounds got closer, the technical decided to back up.
“What’s that Abdul, there’s Americans around here?”
The M-ATV hammered away with it’s .50cal, turning the vehicle to mincemeat and igniting the ammo.
With only two fighters left, Alpha and Bravo decided to roll forward and begin clearing out the college building. However, tragedy unfolded when the M-ATV decided to cut through one of the crop fields. With a deafening bang, one of the IEDs detonated and ripped through the crew compartment, completely destroying the vehicle. Having not taken a single casualty all game, two soldiers were now dead and an expensive vehicle was now wrecked.
However, the Americans had forced the insurgents from this position and the road was now open for the rest of the offensive to move forward. At the same time, despite massive casualties, the insurgents had fired their rocket barrage, evacuated their supply truck and caused casualties amongst the American forces.
Overall it was a really fun game. BLUFOR managed to get fire superiority and keep it through most of the game. Playing as the insurgents, I think I fixated too much on the M-ATV rather than trying to engage Alpha. It was a real shame that my off-map mortar were not called in – I guess they had an issue (possibly the kicking off for a new scenario perhaps). At the same time, I managed to hit all of my objectives which is new! It’s also really different to play with more Average troops having been running the demo game with Special Forces. There were more missed shots than I was used to (even with one of my opponents using his magic dice) which led to a few outrageous shots.
Having not run a game at the club since January, I really miss the different feel that you get from running demo games. It’s a bit more relaxed despite having less time to play. So expect a game in April – perhaps this one will be run with more than a week’s worth of planning.