Sunday, January 13, 2013

Insurgency in the North Caucasian Federal District - War Stories From the Front Lines: #8 Brief Firefight After a Crash Landing in Ingushetia

Mládshiy Serzhánt Yuri Bubunenko's squad (18th Independent Motor Rifle Brigade) narrowly escaped death after a crash landing of their helicopter transport.

Played as a custom-made single player scenario in ArmA 2. The map is Chernarus (is there a good Georgia map for ArmA 2?) The mod for the Russian forces has been kindly recommended by a reader of the blog. It's the "Armed Forces of the Russian Federation" mod. Thanks, NW! The strength of the enemy is known to me (16 insurgents, including an AA team, moving in two trucks, one of them with a mounted ZsU gun ), but their initial position and way points not (random placement radius from 0 to 2 km). 

Our brigade was not even deployed. We were moving out from Ingushetia to where the insurgency was more active (Mineralnye Vody). A few detachments were left here and there, more like rear guards than anything else. Needless to say, these detachments were very weak and spread thin. A few disturbing reports of increased insurgent activity in Ingushetia indicated that rebel forces were on the move ... towards Georgia!

The odd-marriage between Georgian intelligence services and the Ingushetians was no news to us. They obviously waited for us to leave before making their move. It was a prime opportunity to catch them on transit but the resources were not there. Our orders were to interdict their movement towards the Caucasus Mountains. The morning of these events, my squad was given the choice of a blocking position along a main road or an ambush. One or another depending on the strength of the insurgent forces, but significant damage to the enemy was expected.

Due to the great amount of terrain to be covered, we were provided transport by  Mi-8 armed with rocket launchers. The helicopter would come in handy to locate the enemy, but its lack of high tech sensors was worrisome.
We boarded the helicopter and quickly departed to find out the insurgents.
The plan was to locate the enemy, determine its composition and proceed to block or ambush them. The enemy's route was supposedly along that valley on the background. The enemy is moving somewhere from our left to right.
The lack of sensors in the Mi-8 was a complete let down. We stayed at the edges of the valley, wary of the enemy's anti-aircraft capabilities. But after some long minutes it was evident we were not going to be able to detect them from the distance. So the helicopter pilot started a series of zig zag maneuvers, getting in and out the valley, trying to find the enemy.
The smoky trails and tracers of ZSU rounds on our left alerted the pilot of the enemy's presence. The enemy was way past the observation positions we occupied before. A bit overzealous (for my already charred nerves, anyway), the pilot charged against two insurgent trucks all rockets blazing.
The rockets attack destroyed both trucks, but the surviving insurgents dismounted before the explosions and fire. One of the insurgents fired a IR-guided portable missile that cut short the helicopter's second attack run. The pilot crash landed just a dozen meters from the remaining dismounts.
Still shaken by the forces of the landing, we all came out the helicopter with our guns on the ready. In the middle of the open, we were spared some enemy bullets because a good portion of the enemy dismounts were running away.
In a very uneven firefight (10+ insurgents against six of us), we managed ... Barely. Three of my men were wounded.
None of my men liked the task to advance and clear any remaining insurgents, but it had to be done.
The detection of the enemy from the transport helicopter proved to be very ineffective. The insurgents literally moved half way through the valley without detection. After contact, the pilot went too far engaging the enemy. I have wished for locating the enemy, establishing a strong defensive position using the helicopter's guns and rockets as fire support. The entire action lasted 30 minutes and left us guarding the helicopter for either repair or demolition. But at least we destroyed the insurgent team.


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