Monday, June 8, 2015

Command Modern Air and Naval Operations - Missile Chess

It is awesome when a combat simulation mirrors the shortcomings and challenges of real warfare. This blog is just about that, by the way. 

Anyway, this weekend I got some quality time with Command Modern Air and Naval Operations (CMANO) and played my first scenario involving a modern carrier battle group.

This Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier battle group is more than a sideline show for the Operation Brass Drum scenario.
The scenario briefing follows.

United States vs. Iran 
Date/Time: 4th August 2017 / 10:00:00 Zulu
Location: Arabian Sea and Strait of Hormuz
Playable Sides: United States


Following the July 2017 attack on Gaza, the Islamic Republic of Iran demanded a UN censure of Israel as the 'unprovoked aggressor' in that crisis.  Although the measure was enthusiastically supported by several member nations the proposal was swiftly quashed by the US UN Ambassador with a Security Council veto.  Frustrated on the international stage, the Iranian President declared a blockade on the Strait of Hormuz until such time as the United States 'allowed the world to speak'.  

While only a few years before such an action would have been foolhardy, it would be unwise to discount Iran's ability to make good on its' threat today.  In recent years the Americans' international prestige has suffered.  In particular, progressively worsening relations with Russia have led to a state of brusque intolerance between the two nations.  China has also been at odds with the US over their expansionism in East Asia and trade inequities.  Both have worked to increase their influence with Iran, in particular by providing them a new generation of 'defensive armaments', despite the protests of a weakened United States.

The American President is not deterred from standing against the Iranian ultimatum.  With only 1 carrier and an amphibious ready group in the region, with little else to support them, he orders a Freedom of Navigation operation through the Straits of Hormuz and authorizes pre-emptive action to guarantee its' success.  It's a bold move that will demand the most from the limited forces available to the US Navy, where success will bolster the flagging prestige of the United States and failure means a massive loss of its' influence in the Middle East.

First off, in this mission the balance of weaponry and the missile loadouts of every US vessel match perfectly for the mission. There are plenty of land targets to take out on the Iranian coast and a good supply of Tomahawk missiles fits the bill.

But what I wanted to point out is that while browsing each US group in the order of battle, I was floored to find out that the amount of Harpoon missiles is concentrated in the CVBG.

This reminded me of a chapter in a book I purchased recently, "The U.S. Naval Institute on Naval Tactics". A particular chapter “MISSILE CHESS: A PARABLE” by CAPT Wayne P. Hughes Jr., was also published before by the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings (July 1981): 26– 30.

In this chapter, Capt. Hughes claims that the anti-ship striking capability of a battle group should be dispersed among "lesser value" vessels, which he aptly calls "the new destroyers" in the sense that the term was used during the pre-missile era. These "new destroyers" should carry more Harpoon missiles.

Although this is not the CMANO scenario to showcase or test Capt. Hughes' thinking, I am in awe to find those tiny details in this simulation.

This attack group has no Harpoons at all, but an impressive loadout of Tomahawks (see blue tab on the right) to target on the Iranian coast. The green region is an anti-submarine mission I keep rolling ahead as the group moves northwest into the Hormuz Strait.

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