Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The day a town went crazy

[On Sunday at BIG we played the 1st mission of week 3, in all, four members, and a visitor to the club, played in the game.  Here is what transpired.]

By Kevin and Mark

Following the meeting between Corporal Jones and the local police chief, the British patrol, accompanied by a squad of MANP patrolled through the centre of the town. The British patrolled close to their Warrior IFV, while the police squad fanned out through the houses to the north of the road. A makeshift barricade across the road ahead was the first warning of trouble.  Two policemen with Dragunov sniper rifles climbed to the top of a two storey building to provide covering fire should the Taliban show themselves.  Before they could get in position, however, a dozen insurgents opened fire on them from the roof of a tea house. The two snipers fell under the hail of bullets. The remaining police fired ineffectively at the insurgents but this allowed Corporal Jones to maneuver his team onto the roof of a neighbouring house. Accurate fire from the British then brought down two or three of the insurgents; the survivors ran for cover, fleeing to the north.

Up ahead, at a T-junction, appeared two dozen militants, former MANA soldiers, now allied to the local warlord, Colonel Dogba. The British nervously waved to the newcomers. At the same time, Lance Corporal Hutchins' team spotted a group of armed men hiding in a compound to the south of the road. Not knowing if they were part of the warlord's forces or insurgents, Hutchins ordered his men to hold their fire, but keep them under observation. When the insurgents showed that they were hostile by moving to attack, the British fusillade dropped all but one. The survivor was disarmed, cuffed and hooded, and bundled into the back of the Warrior. The British had every reason to feel that things were going their way.

It was about this time that the police chief entered the tea house and found that one of the men killed by the British was in fact a family member. In fury, he immediately ordered his men to fire on Corporal Jones' team, who defended themselves, and wounded two of the turncoat policemen. However, the police were suddenly joined by a large group of insurgents; the hail of fire that these laid down caught Jones by surprise, and a bullet ricocheted off his body armour into his throat. He bled to death before his team could assist him. The insurgents also launched an RPG at the Warrior, but it exploded harmlessly against the bar armour. The Warrior returned fire, killing one of the RPG team, and forcing the other to ground. The remainder of the insurgents were undeterred, and continued to blast away at the three survivors of Jones' team, who decided to evacuate Jones' body from their exposed position. As they attempted to do so, Private Lovett was hit in the head, instantly killing him, and Private Dowden fell, seriously wounded.

Hutchins' team heard the cries of 'Man down', and moved north to assist their fallen comrades, arriving just in time to stop an assault; at point-blank range, they wounded or killed five insurgent policemen who had been intent on capturing the remnants of Jones' team. Hutchins' men retrieved the bodies of Jones and Lovett, and helped to carry Dowden back to the Warrior.

 The MANA forces had not been idle in the meantime.  Seeing the much-hated police shooting at the British, Colonel Dogba directed his men to close with the insurgents, and clear them from the buildings to the north of the T-junction. As they did so, the insurgents detonated an IED planted at the T-junction. Both Dogba's men and the insurgent policemen were enveloped in the resulting explosion. When the dust settled the road was a scene of carnage, with perhaps a dozen MANA, insurgents and policemen down, dead or wounded. This seemed to be the catalyst which led to “the town that went crazy”. Mobs of AK wielding locals descended on the T-junction. In the ensuing firefight, blood soaked the road and buildings, the Uzbek MANA soldiers trading fire with the local insurgents, neither side willing to give way.

By this time Hutchins and the surviving British soldiers realised the mission was becoming untenable, and mounted their IFV, hoping to drive through the ambush to safety with their casualties and prisoner. The Warrior surged into motion down the road, past the T-junction and up to the make-shift roadblock. Two RPG's bounced harmlessly off its side armour, and Hutchins felt that they might just make it. As they slowed down to maneuver over the barricade, an insurgent fired another RPG at the IFV from the upper floor of the old police station; this one exploded on the thinner deck armour, and ripped the right track apart, immobilising the Warrior.

The insurgents then attempted to swarm the vehicle, but the coaxial machine gun beat off two attacks, sending the surviving insurgents to ground. However, the British realised it was only time before they were overwhelmed. The Warrior crew and the surviving 'Toms' hastily disembarked, carrying their dead and wounded, and dragging their hooded prisoner towards several MANA soldiers sheltering behind a wall. They were just in time, as more and more insurgents appeared, some attempting to cut-off the British. With the stout defence put up by MANA, the British survivors were able to head south into the fields, to be evacuated by a waiting Chinook; the medical team on board immediately tried to stabilise Dowden's injuries.

No one knows how many insurgents died - estimates vary between ten and thirty; in addition, about eleven policemen were reported killed (unconfirmed rumours were that at least eight wounded policemen were summary executed by the MANA). The former local police chief was not among them; he appears to have joined the insurgents. Colonel Dogba lost two or three men in the IED blast, and had seven or eight men seriously wounded, five of whom were evacuated on the Chinook. Of his remaining force there were very few men who had not been wounded. The British had suffered two dead and one wounded. The abandoned Warrior was destroyed by a Hellfire missile from an escorting Apache, moments after the Chinook lifted into the air.

The convoy of supplies needed for reconstruction at the dam could not leave Malika City - the situation in Azmakassar being deemed too dangerous for the convoy to transit - and were instead diverted to the construction of a new canal south of Malika. Later in the week, at a shuria with Major Zaster, the local elders in Azmakassar blamed foreign mercenaries, although two of the elders present appeared to have suffered shrapnel wounds.

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