Friday, June 7, 2013

Steel Beasts ProPE - AAR - Flank Attack

An American mechanized battalion conducting a fighting withdrawal in the middle of a regiment-sized Soviet attack. In an attempt to take pressure off the American forces, my German panzer grenadier battalion hits the Soviets in their right flank. The main problem? I have only one company available to start this business.

My best and worst moments while playing this great scenario (Flank Attack, stock scenario in Steel Beasts) by LtHenkel. Obvious spoilers. You have been warned.

Below is the operations plan for my panzer grenadier battalion, which will be attacking in the northwest direction (dotted blue arrow). The objective (big blue oval) is the right flank of a Soviet mechanized regiment (red icons and tactical graphs), which is giving our American friends a run for their lives.

The operations plan. Right click and open in another window/tab for a better view.
The FRAGO. Right click and open in another window/tab if you want to actually read something.
A panoramic view of the terrain around CP35 (see operational map above), right where the main axis of attack (dotted blue arrow in the same map) has been marked.
The terrain around CP35 is a great chokepoint for the enemy. Given the stage of the Soviet attack, it is likely that the Soviets have some flank forces covering this approach. I didn't even try to shovel my company into this hell hole, not because I didn't feel capable of  eventually making it through but because it would delay my advance.

That's why my company is steering clear of the above avenue of approach and is leaning on our sector's right flank and aiming for CP8. In addition to this, an approach to the objective through CP8 offers a direct route to the hill at CP54. This particular piece of terrain looks very inviting. However, the presence of many destroyed American armor hulls there is telling me something.

Panzers, marsch!

The scenario offers the player a FASCAM artillery mission (artillery delivered minefield). This fire mission can be delivered either close to the Americans or north of the assembly area for the Soviet follow on forces. I chose to deliver this minefield close to the Americans. Their situation was dire after all.

The approach to the objective via CP8 was not as fast as I was hoping. Yet, we moved out of contact for the entire length of the route.
Approaching CP8, I ordered the company to stop. Our recon troopers up front have bumped onto something cresting the hill near CP54. I looks like a mechanized Soviet battalion. I call artillery support (three fire missions, red-dotted boxes). Our troopers try to get out of harm's way, but they are quickly destroyed.
With just one platoon of Leopard tanks, we inch into contact. The artillery (black billowing smoke in the background) falls merciless on the enemy at the hill. The tank platoon's firepower is not overwhelming but is effective. Note the platoon is still in column formation, choked by the woods along the road.
My tank platoon makes it, finally, into the open. In this picture I am about to deploy my tanks into a line formation. Note the black smoke (our artillery) in the background. Very surprisingly, amid all that intensive shelling the Soviet BMPs continued to fire ATGMs onto us. All their rounds failed to meet a target.
When the smoke and dust from the artillery fire lifted, the lead tank platoon destroyed a couple of enemy vehicles which were still operational. A second tank platoon was called up front once the vehicle clean up was done.

However, once my lead tank platoon started pressing onto CP54, we had a colossal reminder of the power of infantry. Hidden in crevices and knolls, the Soviet infantry greeted us with hand-held rocket launchers ...

The lead tank platoon (2/A) can't shake a painful infantry torn from under its threads. Shown here, the first enemy infantry contact (red diamond icon). Note the extra platoon (1/A) joining the fray.
The destroyed hulls of the Soviet BMPs at the hill near CP54. Enemy infantry remnants everywhere, though.
I really would have preferred to establish a battle position at the hill near CP54. But the enemy infantry pressure forced us to move ahead.
I moved the two platoons out of CP54, towards the plain in the west. The two panzer grenadier platoons were ordered forward to clean up the enemy infantry remaining in the hill we just abandoned.

Panzer grenadiers mopping up enemy infantry, under the covering fire of their Marder IFVs. This screenshot taken from the hill near CP54.
On the meantime, we received intel about a company sized force moving north directly onto the two tank platoon's position. I ordered the two platoons to occupy a hull down position to catch the advancing Soviets on their flank. The chosen hull down position was occupied by enemy infantry and a couple of BMPs. A brief artillery barrage was not enough to evict them from our planned battle position, so we left them there.
Denied of our intended hull down position (on our rear at the time of this picture), we had to face the advancing Soviets on the exposed slope of the hill. The killing was quick and good, but we suffered a mobility kill from an ATGM.
The tactical situation so far. The much awaited reinforcements are moving up, here visible at the tip of the dotted blue arrow with two Leopard tank platoons in the lead. The Soviets have now stopped their push north from the village at CP6.

With the good news of a reinforcement company moving in, I ordered my two tank platoons to close in towards CP6. This is the point from where the Soviets have advanced a few minutes ago. CP6 is near a village ... No matter the era of armored warfare, the attack of built up areas remains a deadly business. We suffered many tanks losses during this attack.
Despite the losses and the risk, we move past the village to secure some real estate around it. Some Soviet armor was scattered around. We engaged and destroyed no less than 3 enemy T-72s.
Reinforcements moving towards CP6. This panzer grenadier platoon will be very helpful to clear the village.
After getting targeted by an enemy artillery barrage at CP6, we pull out towards the plains near CP54 to re-group. Being targeted by enemy artillery means that you are being observed. We left the task of clearing the vicinity of the village at CP6 to the panzer grenadiers.
After re-grouping, we launched an anemic tanks-only offensive oriented towards the enemy assembly area. Our efforts came way too short despite killing some 5 or so enemy tanks. Yet again, infantry blocking our advance from the surrounding woods.
The scenario ended with a major victory for NATO.

Total losses for the Soviets were 20 tanks, 76 APCs and 369 troops. At the end of the scenario, the Soviets had 7 tanks, 20 APCs and 126 men remaining. A good portion of these losses, off course, are due to the works of the Americans.

As for losses under my command, which includes two panzer grenadier companies 5 tanks (out of 12), 7 APCs (out of 27) and 27 grenadiers (out of 122).

A playback of the in-game AAR, which plots all troop movements, revealed that my company hit the trail of the main Soviet attack and the tip of the follow on troops. The enemy assembly area was left untouched, with a Soviet mechanized infantry company still waiting to join the battle.



Unknown said...
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Erich said...
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Erich said...

These awesome damn AAR's have now officially cost me $75 and the ire of my wife, I'll have you know.

Just ordered SBProPE and now anxiously awaiting the fulfillment of all my teenage dreams of holding off hordes of Warsaw Pact armor.

GSFG, AGMB, MRR... How scary is it that I remember this crap 30 years later?

Bring on the Cold War again!

Gowan James Ditchburn said...

great work! that was a very well thought out and executed battle. well done. certainly NATO will be very proud of the General who won that victory.

Anonymous said...

Why does this scenario use Strv 122 instead of Leopard 2A4 which is in the NATO arsenal? Great AAR though, as always. You've inspired me to get too many war games :D

JC said...

Hi Erich and sorry about the wife. Flowers, dinners or just anything romantic will erase this thing pretty easily. :) And thanks for your service!
At Gowan: Thanks! There were significant losses,though. Could NATO actually afford that many?
At Anonymous: I don't know man. I'm very bad a ToEs.