This is a story that I found interesting not because of what my virtual troopers and me have achieved, but because of what I have learned.
The use of hunter-killer teams in cavalry operations is well-known and regarded as highly effective. I have played around with this concept with Steel Beasts ProPE a long while ago. In a nutshell, the platoon is divided in hunter-killer teams composed of IFVs and tanks. The IFVs act mostly as "hunters" who find targets and the tanks as "killers", who as their name indicates are the ones who dispatch the enemy. These two are like the Chinese Jiān birds, in an unbreakable bond of targeting and fire.
Today, I did put myself in the virtual boots of a trooper and went into combat against the Takistani Army. It was a fight that needed more men and machines, or better tactical leadership. In either case, a couple of observations will be tossed at the end of the report.
The mission is a rear area security cleanup. The pace of advance of the US Army has been high and there are plenty of bypassed Takistani Army pockets. In this case, a company-sized enemy mechanized force sits in an uneasy spot and needs to be cleared out. My platoon of cavalry (3 CFVs and two M1 Abrams tanks) has volunteered to establish contact and develop the situation.
We took a bit of an aggressive stance and we payed dearly for it.
|At least a fraction of the enemy is hiding in a strip village. Right next to the village, there is a factory and a green zone, both of which we can't reconnoiter from our current position.|
|There is still plenty of enemy infantry in the village. As dismounts, it is our turn to move up to them.|
|The smoke billows are excellent reference points for our dismounted advance. We move through the open with the distant support of the two M1 Abrams tanks.|
|Through the open, the folds of the terrain play tricks against our fields of fire. The enemy is now in the reverse slope ... This is a very unfortunate situation as we will be able to target the enemy from relatively close range only.|
|But it must be done. We pull ourselves up and move forward. Sporadic firefights come and go. We have the upper hand because of our numeric superiority.|
|We are almost sure that the enemy has no AT missiles or RPGs in the village. The tanks are called up ... They stop too close to us.|
|A couple of RPGs fly from the village towards the tanks. They fall short, but they kill number two and injure number five. We have failed to observe the most basic drill in tank-infantry cooperation (stay relatively away from the tanks).|
|We must carry on. I grab the SAW from our fallen comrade number two, and pull everybody out of the open.|
|We gain a modest foothold on the village and start working our way into it.|
|Our journey through the built up area has just started. This is a panoramic view of the way ahead. By the way, I got shot by an enemy grenadier ... Fortunately, I can still carry on.|
|Advancing through the village. A very deliberate affair conducted at snail pace.|
|From this position, I finally spotted a piece of terrain worthy a cavalry man's blood: a factory with a multi-story building. The perfect observation post.|
|The factory is surrounded by high walls. There are a couple of mouse holes to enter, but we can hear enemy infantry chatter. We don't want to be caught one by one crossing and we call out the tank to breach the wall.|
|A firefight, as loud as short ends up with us in possession of the facilities.|
|I leave men and tanks behind and go on point to conduct a dismounted reconnaissance.|
|The terrain ahead will require a significant number of extra resources.|
|The mythical bird is now one-eyed, but paradoxically can see further ahead.|
|The enemy targets multiply at every scan of the terrain. Our platoon has suffered enough casualties to warrant relief from the follow and assume formation behind us.|
- I knew that combat in built up areas was infantry-intensive, but in this case I felt like infantry was central even in the open. Maybe because we were closing towards a built-up area?
- The firepower of the infantry/cavalry combat vehicles is no substitute for boots on the ground. Hell! I had those Bradleys hidden from RPGs and other battlefield hazards at all times. We may as well have driven here in civilian sedans and leave those cars out of sight.
- Built up or closed terrain areas suck up infantry like there is no tomorrow. No surprises here, but ... Gee! I don't think that even a full reinforced company would be enough to engage the targets in the green zone ahead. I sorely missed the USMC hefty 12-men squads.
- The whole idea of the infantry fighting vehicle was to carry and support infantry into the fight ... With a big emphasis in doing so at areas where tanks can't go. Yet here I am, fighting without IFVs because their armor is inferior and alongside tanks which can barely move through narrow streets. What am I missing here?
- Dismounted reconnaissance proved the most valuable one
- At least in this case, the concept of a hunter-killer team had evidently little to do with Bradleys and tanks but rather with tanks and dismounted infantry in a combined arms approach. The eye of the Jiān is not always behind precision-polished lenses