Sunday, July 29, 2012

Across the Canal - A Combat Mission Shock Force / Marines Scenario

If  not interesting, at least it's going to be challenging.

Right after the catastrophic loss of an AAV-7 to an enemy RPG, a Marine moves away to safety with his machine gun. The rest of his machine gun crew died in the blast of the rocket impacting the vehicle.

The scenario about the infamous "Ambush Alley" (Iraq War 2003) is ready. I played it and the battle was not pretty.

I will delay posting a "Game vs. Book" type of entry about this topic until I sort out some things. I was sort of expecting this, but it hit me really hard when I had to put my hands on it: the more detailed (i.e. low level tactical) the war game, the more details are missing in the historical account. Sometimes the details are trivial, most of the times they are not. More so, some details are mentioned in the historical account but frequently you can't implement it in the war game. So, how historical a low level tactical scenario can be? I am starting to think that everything is a very gross approximation to reality. I am not insane to expect a high fidelity, crime-scene-investigation/reconstruction of any battlefield. But when you get into the details of creating a war gaming scenario based in a real life battle, it is a bit of an art to sort out what's needed and what is not.

An art that I have not mastered. So this scenario was made with many historical details trimmed out:

  • Although the book "Marines in the Garden of Eden" (Richard Lowry) details the position of every single vehicle of Charlie Company that made it through the Saddam Canal, the situation was so fluid (thoroughly detailed in "Ambush Alley" by Tim Pritchard) that it would be impossible to make it justice with the Combat Mission engine. So I had to settle for creating an scenario just "themed/inspired" in the actual events: US Marines in AAVs, fighting an ambush, with an ultimate mission of securing the Saddam Canal crossing.
  • The map was made as a combination of Google maps imagery and very low detail 1:25,000 map.  I am sure I have erred in the scale of the scenario's map, making it a tad small. 
  • The US Marines OOB: there was so much back and forth across the Saddam Canal that the composition of forces across the canal never stayed the same for a period of time longer than 15 minutes. So, the US Marines in the scenario have just one platoon.
  • The enemy is mainly infantry bearing small arms, HMGs, RPGs and mortars. Indirect fire from the enemy can be very precise. Not so sure it happened that way in 2003.
I uploaded this scenario at Battlefront's file repository and its awaiting clearance. The most recent version of the scenario is 0.91 (I will have to update the file in the repository right after it clears).

The briefing screen.

Counter-ambush operations west of the main road. Note the close cooperation between Marines and AAVs (background).
That explosion in the background is from an RPG. The terrain east of the main road is too close. Liberal use of suppressive fire is encouraged.
These Marines went head on against an enemy ambush and succeeded brushing off the opposition. They just found themselves under enemy sniper fire from their right flank.
Enemy mortar fire falling on the main road. Too intense at times. Make sure you take care of this nasty threat.

I will be posting a link to the scenario as soon as it becomes available in Battlefront's repository. Or you can e-mail me at realandsimulatedwars at gmail dot com for the scenario file.



Anonymous said...

I read the book "Ambush Alley" years ago. It really is an outstanding book. I remember it being extremely detailed and the written prose absolutely superb! Your excellent articles on this scenario based on the book is prompting me to re-read that masterpiece. I'm going to play your mission as well. :)

JC said...

I totally agree about the book. Worth re-reading. As for the scenario. Let us know how it goes for you.