Monday, July 28, 2014

Steel Beasts ProPE - AAR - Breathing Space - Part 2

This is a continuation from my previous post. The hasty withdrawal of our brigade needs breathing space for reform and replenish. The enemy shows up from the east with tanks and BMPs. I just launched my first TOW missile and I saw an impact.

This image is from the AAR recording tool in Steel Beasts. My first TOW missile hit the enemy tank to no effect.  A combination of aspect (TOWs are better used when fired at the enemy flanks) and high range may had an impact.
The reloading of a second missile takes some time, which appear to be years in tank-combat time.

The enemy tanks keep pressing towards the village. They were just about to get out of my sights when I fired a second missile.

This time is a good hit, just in the junction between turret and hull.

I try to engage the other tanks, but they just disappeared behind the treeline near the village. Note the open terrain elsewhere.
The tactical situation at ~8 minutes into the mission. The enemy vehicles (red icons) have just pushed into the village. My original plan was to cut the momentum of their attack with artillery fire missions at TRP1, TRP2 and TRP3. The use of combined HE and smoke artillery munition was supposed to cut their LOS and bring them into the village scattered and piecemeal to be engaged by my infantry men carrying AT-4s. As seen in the map above, I am quite delayed asking for the fire mission.

Because the fire missions were already plotted, they don't take the regular two full minutes to splash. Soon the east side of the village is shaken by the artillery rounds. In this picture, the tank I destroyed previously. Note the smoke and dust billows from the artillery fire impacting TRP1.

My dismounts at the village make a stoical stand against the BMPs, which start to chew them up whenever they see them. Note the smoke in the far background. 
Alerted by the calls from my infantry at the village, I decide to engage whatever vehicle I can see. In this case one BMP, at which I fired a TOW not using the thermal imaging. In mid flight, my own artillery starts to fall in front of the enemy vehicle, blocking my line of sight. I keep the cross hairs right at the last place where I could see the vehicle, just hoping.
The TOW finds its target. Luck has just switched sides.

After switching to the thermal sights, I can see through the artillery's mayhem. I get to destroy another BMP.

On the meantime, at one of the crossings,  my infantry is already taking shots at the BMPs.
A few minutes later, my infantry just stopped cold a whole platoon of BMPs.
By now and thanks to the fantastic performance of my dismounts at the village, the remainder enemy vehicles stay put, maybe waiting for orders or reinforcements. As for my TOW team, we just ran out of visible targets and almost out of  missiles (only one left). We pull back to resupply.

Our logistics truck is worryingly close to the FEBA ... But hey, this is Air Land Battle or what? EDIT: Air Land Battle Doctrine called for continuously engaging the enemy in depth. Many supply convoys would have ended very close to enemy formations.

We mount our M113 in order to engage the remainder enemy vehicles from another angle.
A quick ammo check among my dismounts indicates that they have ran out of AT-4 rockets. I decide to pull them out of the village under a new smoke barrage. 

An infantry man from the 1st Squad withdrawing from the village. Note the artillery-fired smoke in the background.

The withdrawal of my dismounts from the village works more or less fine. One squad got caught in a very bad spot by an enemy tank (background). A few casualties that could have been avoided.

As for my TOW team, now mounted on the M113 we take off for a trip a bit too wide on the enemy's flank. We are very careful not to end up in any enemy vehicle's sight because the M113 has not the thickest skin.

After finding a seemingly good spot to dismount, we are forced out of the M113 by enemy fire from a BMP. It is smoke what saves us and our vehicle from a quick demise. Our vehicle limps back a few meters, its suspension busted by the enemy fire.
Repositioning to engage the enemy BMP. 

I order an artillery mission (black smoke in the background) to suppress the enemy vehicle and its dismounts so we can maneuver into a good firing position.
The artillery suppression, the obscuration of the smoke and our thermal sights combine perfectly. One more enemy BMP is out of commission at the other side of the missile launcher.

We arrive some 1 km south of the village, walking and hauling our missiles and launcher. A new smoke fire mission is active at the village (see insert). The river crossing site is littered with enemy vehicles.

Built up areas pose quite a problem for engaging enemy targets. We catch just the smallest glimpse of an enemy tank's turret with our thermal sights. We fire at it repeatedly and we can't confirm if the rounds are impacting the tank or the buildings nearby.

With our missile supply down to zero, we pull out completely from the fighting position. All the dismounts have now reached their vehicles and the party of the doomed moves west for another meeting with destiny.

End of AAR.

Quite an enjoyable mission. Sorry it took so long to compile and I hope the AAR conveys the excitement of being David against a highly mobile Goliath. A few observations are in order before I sign out.

  • The dismounted TOW team's forte is fighting at extreme ranges. The team is seemingly hard to spot from the distance. In addition to that, the increased range offers the chance of pulling out in one piece. By the way, relocating a dismounted TOW team takes a while and the movement is hampered by the weight of the hardware.
  • The recommendation to use the TOW missiles in firing positions from the enemy's flank could not be practiced in this scenario. I wasted one precious missile against a tank which didn't even flinch because I was firing at its front.
  • One of the worst enemies of the dismounted TOW team is the limited ammo. Moving to the supply trucks and resupplying takes an amount of time that is not compatible with a high tempo mechanized combat environment. 


Gibsonm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gibsonm said...

(sorry deleted previous comment due to too many typos).

Two things that may help next time.

1. Infantry can throw their own smoke (Tab - like a vehicle), this may have helped the squad pulling back over the open ground).

2. The TOW (or other Infantry team) can reload from their ride.

So no need to go via the ammo truck. Scramble aboard the APC, grab the extra rounds from within the M113, emerge at the other end replenished.

Good story though.

badanov said...

Very well done AAR. Totally enjoyed it. I don't have any tactical advice, because it seemed you did everything the you are supposed to.

Doug Miller said...

Great AAR JC. Nice use of smoke. All too often I forget to use it enough to make a difference!

NW said...

Gibsonm: Good to know. Can the vehicle then be sent back to replenish its stocks including the assigned teams' spare ammunition from the logs vehicle? This would be a good way to keep ammunition flowing forward to the dismounts if so.

Gibsonm said...

"Can the vehicle then be sent back to replenish its stocks including the assigned teams' spare ammunition from the logs vehicle?"

Well yes if you want to play "properly".

If you want more entertainment value you can explore a programming simplification in that the vehicle is a "bottomless cup". That is you can reload an unlimited number of times (far more than the vehicle's internal volume) by just going back over and over again - assuming the Infantry team survives that long.

Its not limited to say one second line of TOW ammunition per TOW team (suspect tracking this for all sorts of dismounts would generate a bit of an overhead.

The same simplification applies to:

Rifle team
MG team
AGL team
ATGM team
Small calibre mortars