Monday, August 19, 2013

A Successful Far Ambush Has a Lot to Do with Good Gunnery and Timely Withdrawal - ArmA 3

A month or so ago, I had a chance to play some coop ArmA 3 and the team I was part of barely got out. I wished for a nice after action review conversation about the perils of the far ambush, but all of us have lives and other obligations.

So here is what I have to say, in the form of an AAR from a single player custom-made mission in ArmA 3. A tad belated ...

I can't recommend enough the Small Unit Tactics (SMARTbook Series) book. For realism-oriented groups of online players, the book helps to unify the tactical lexicon. I can't say I have played a lot online, but I am always surprised to find out that some words have very different meanings for different people. I remember an occasion in which the word "suppress" prompted a group of players to assault an enemy position through an open field ... They both survived and succeeded, incredibly enough, at "suppressing" the enemy position (not a single enemy shot was targeted at any other unit). More complex orders may get interpreted in even more different ways.

In this ArmA 3 scenario I command a fire team of Greek infantry and I am about to conduct a far ambush against two Iranian squads of infantry.

Far ambushes are usually conducted by patrols that are outnumbered and can't afford the complete destruction of the enemy by fire and direct assault.  For a far ambush, the support team places himself at a considerable distance from the kill zone. A natural or man-made barrier is desirable to prevent the enemy from counter-attacking. The far ambush has no assault team (the team that moves into the kill zone to finish up the enemy) and is expected to just harass and/or partially destroy an enemy force.

The critical points we all missed during that Saturday afternoon were the need to have good shots in the support team and good criteria on perceiving the culminating point where the enemy has recovered and is about to start a counter-attack.

A covert and stealthy approach are a must to maintain the surprise factor.

Choosing the kill zone and the position of the men of the support team is very important in a hasty ambush. In this picture, the automatic rifleman has been given the best available field of fire.
The enemy infantry squads are unaware of our presence. Our position is in the crest of the hills at the background.
Our engagement range is approximately 250 meters. The enemy is patrolling near the crest in the mid background.

After the shock of the first shots and the first casualties, the enemy fires back towards our position. I took special care of having my men target the enemy automatic riflemen first, so the enemy's return fire fades in intensity over time.
The enemy pulls back slowly to take advantage of the crest. They stop shooting while they move, giving us a small margin of fire superiority.
A few short minutes into the ambush the enemy withdraws out of sight, overwhelmed by our fire.
We inflicted 8 casualties on the enemy, enough for this time.
For far ambushes, the withdraw routes are as important as the kill zones. With the enemy out of sight and without a contingency plan for an enemy counter-attack, we decided to pull out in good order. After a few minutes, the withdraw process needs some rear security.
Many online groups resort to the far ambush while conducting their missions. Range, gunnery and timely withdraw frequently go without too much thought. In the case of the online session, we collectively failed to consider all of them.



Bil Hardenberger said...

Good stuff J... and that's a good looking game.


JC said...

Hi Bil! Thanks.
How are you these days?


Anthony Mercando said...

Eight enemy KIA sounds like a great result! Interesting read as always, JC.