Saturday, June 13, 2009

An M3/M1 Hunter-Killer Plt in a Hasty Attack: Learning to Punch with the Fingers Spread (Part 1)

Man schlägt jemanden mit der Faust und nicht mit gespreizten Fingern. (You hit somebody with your fist and not with your fingers spread.) Heinz Guderian
Meaning that you should concentrate your Panzers for one mighty push in one direction and not distribute them over a large area. From WikiQuotes.
The action described below is from a custom-made Steel Beasts ProPE scenario featuring a US Cavalry Plt tasked with filling a gap in a screen line.

This scenario is loosely based in the actions of the 2nd Plt, A Troop, 1-4 US Cavalry near objective Norfolk during the Gulf War. During the early hours of 27 Feb 1991, 1-4 US Cav was conducting a screen mission for 1 ID. The S3 of the unit, Major John Burdan became aware that A and B Troops have been inadvertently moving away from each other while moving to establish the screen line. Thus, a gap in the screen line was generated. The 1st Squadron commander (LTC Robert Wilson) decided to inspect the screen line personally, taking along one M3 and an M113. This command group found a dug-in Iraqi T-72 and quickly dispatched it. Soon it became evident that BMPs and T-72s were behind the 1st Squadron's screen line. Lacking the firepower needed to clear this enemy group, the 2nd Plt of A Troop (2LT Adrian Lowndes) was called in to clear the enemy positions and to re-establish de screen line. More details can be found at "The Road to Safwan", by Bourque and Burdan (pages 151 to 153).

Please keep in mind "loosely based". This scenario is not an historical recreation. Over time, I profusively edited the scenario and kept getting rid of the many difficulties the Troopers of 1-4 US Cav have encountered in real-life. Navigation in an almost featurless desert, with few GPS units, with 1/500,000 maps and at night. How they did it, it escapes my comprehension. To make it up for my scenario's numerous excesses, I situated the action during a moderate sandstorm (low visibility), with no air support and no indirect fires availble for blue. I made the gap in the screen almost 4 km wide. I also reinforced the Iraqis with two plts of T-72s and three plt(-) of BMPs, all deployed in depth with infantry-manned OPs up front. I also gave the Iraqis random start positions and two crude plans of armored counter-attack which are triggered based in the reports by the infantry OPs.

The main purpose of editing and playing this scenario was to learn how to use hunter-killer teams in a hasty attack. M3/M1 hunter-killer teams have been widely used by US Cavalry formations during both Iraq wars. For this scenario, I have an US Cav Plt composed of 6 M3 CFVs and 2 M1 MBTs. I organized this Plt as described in an article that appeared in the Armor magazine, back in 1993.

The Hunter-Killer Cavalry Platoon, as described in Armor magazine. (Click the image for an expanded view)

Without further ado, the mission.

The tactical situation. (Click on the image for an expanded view)

The blue units at the north and south extremes of the map, are part of the squadron's screen line and they are out of my control. The gap between both of them is where enemy presence is suspected. The units is at the eastern extreme of the map are part of my Plt. You will have excuse me in that each of them show Plt symbols and nomenclature. They are all just part of the same US Cav Plt. Units 3-A and 2-A have a tank symbol but they are actually composed of 1 M1 MBT and 2 M3 CFVs. This is the first time I use the new mixed units feature of v2.146! :)

The task is to execute a "clear" tactical mission and re-establish the screen line (dotted arrows located at the western edge). The "clear" tactical mission is ussualy executed after very careful planning and is supported with multiple assets. Clearly not the case for this scenario, but I'm claiming METTTC considerations. :)

To be continued ...


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