Thanks to the magic of desktop simulation, it is possible to experience or just try out stuff your read in your military books. This weekend, after going half way through Warrior's Rage by Douglas McGregor, I wanted to go to the desert and command a US Cavalry troop.
The particular topic that interested me is the use of a mortar section (two tubes mounted in M113 vehicles) in support of the troop. In page 26 of the printed version of Warrior's Rage, there is a mention of the use of this mortars to mark the enemy's position for the other platoons and to suppress the enemy while the troop maneuvers into a firing position.
This mission is in the desert, against the Iraqi Army. The original map is El Alamein (by manteuffel at the downloads section of SteelBeasts.com) slightly modified with some shrubs. Kilometers of open terrain, ideal for an armor battle.
I was about to play this custom-made, solo play mission in Steel Beasts ProPE version 2.654, but was reminded by blogger reader Koen about the imminent release of version 3.0. This newer version of Steel Beasts ProPE has proper M113s with functional mortars, and now is prime time to try this mortar support thing.
|A Troop (blue icons) has to secure the crossroads at objective "Alamein". The crossroads are defended by mechanized infantry supported by tanks. The strength of the enemy forces is unknown, but no less than a company was reported at the crossroads.|
- 2 platoons of four M1 Abrams tanks each
- two platoons of six M3 Bradley CFV each. The platoon size is six instead of the traditional four, please see page 32 of Warrior's Rage.
- a section of two M113s equipped with mortars
- support vehicles (ammo and repair)
A more detailed briefing is in the original post. I will not post it here to avoid duplication. I played this scenario and jumping from one platoon to other, as demanded by the situation, the shortcomings of the AI and just curiosity. Not the most realistic thing to do with a simulator, but fun nonetheless.
|The starting position, from 5th Plt.|
|The view from a 5th Plt. gunner's TIS. The sensitivity of this thermal imaging systems is astonishing. In this case, those tiny little red specs in the horizon were so far that I could not get a laser range.|
|The first enemy contacts are quickly dispatched with TOWs fired from the M3 CFVs, but the two M1 tank platoons quickly join the fight. The tanks advance on our right flank, finishing up enemy scout vehicles and OPs.|
|The advance of our tank platoons continues unopposed, but a couple of kilometers ahead our armor spots the first enemy tank. The mortar section (vehicles above is called for fire support).|
|The flat desert terrain offers some modest opportunities for a semi-decent battle position. In this picture, M1 tanks trying to find one of those without interrupting the safety offered by speed.|
|The tactical map and our call for mortar fire on the first enemy T-72 (red icon).|
|The M113 mortar carrier, lashing out shells.|
|The mortar shells exploding in the horizon. At least two smoke billows suggest some degree of success, but it is difficult to figure out if the enemy casualties were inflicted by the mortar fire or just our M1 tanks.|
|This type of close fight is exactly what an M1 tank should avoid at all costs. But it is too late now, and the main guns spit sabot rounds with alacrity. No less than 8 enemy tanks are destroyed. Two M1 tanks are lost on our side.|
|We were in the process of making sure that no threats were around some of our M1 tank mobility losses when we got under fire from the west (our left flank).|
|This is how it looks from the enemy's point of view. These tanks are advancing from left to right (note the main road), but have stopped to engage us. Mortar shells, US sabot rounds and the smoke of the T-72's own main guns all mixed together.|
If there is enough interest in this post, I have some extra screenshots on the action that took place after the Iraqi tanks broke contact with us near objective Alamein.