Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Week 3 - Battle 2 - Sweep and Clear

[We got to play the second battle of week 3, a sweep and clear fire fight in open farmland]

The French contingent of UN forces at FOB Brokenbone mounted their VAB APCs early in the morning and made their way down Brokenbone ridge.  Instead of continuing along the road to Azmakassar the convoy turned right and crossed the wooden trestle bridge under the cover of darkness.

Following several reports during the previous week that insurgents were beginning to congregate in the valley to the south east of the FOB the base commander, Major Zaster, decided that a pre-emptive strike was the order of the day.  A platoon of infantry was tasked with clearing the area.  Late in the week an informant volunteered information that a foreign teacher with lots of money was organizing the insurgents from one of three houses in the valley.  Major Zaster considered it essentially to remove this threat before it escalated.  Lieutenant Pierre volunteered to sweep and clear the valley.

Lt Pierre led his force through of the mostly deserted town of Janubsahil, with the sun rising the French debussed and formed up on the designated line of departure.  After advancing through beet and grain fields, ditches and over walls they approached what appeared to be a farm shed or garage.  Parked in front of the building was a red Toyota Hilux.  The French went to ground and scanned the buildings ahead of their advance.  A few of the teams reported suspicious men near the red Hilux, but reported over the radio net that they did not appear to be hostile.
The 300m fire team on the far left of the French line reported suspicious activity and then spotted armed men waiting in ambush behind the “red truck building.  The firefight had begun.  A few of the insurgents fell under the initial burst of fire and the survivors desperately sort cover.
Insurgents spotted at the "Red Truck House"
Lieutenant Pierre moved up through his fireline to direct the assault on the “red truck building”.
Following the intial firefight quietness descended over the shallow valley.  The silence was shattered when a diesel engine roared to life in the grain field in front of the HQ team.  The vehicle, barely visible above the grain, began to roll towards the ditch where the HQ team was taking cover.  The platoon sergeant took up position to fire, but Lieutenant Pierre reiterated the need to confirm the hostile intent of the driver.   The vehicle, white Hilux, burst from the field several metres from the HQ, the Sergeant tried to wave down the driver, but the driver sped up and drove at the team, before the men could bring their guns to bear the Hilux exploded in a fireball.

Miraculously surviving the blast the platoon sergeant found the company medic, together they crawled along the ditch and found the radio operator, and he was unconscious and seriously wounded.  A few metres away lay Lieutenant Pierre.  While the medic dealt with the radio operator the sergeant crawled over to the young Lieutenant, he was beyond help and died soon after the sergeant reached him.  The woes of the HQ team was not over.  From within the grain field appeared a squad-sized unit of insurgents who brought heavy fire to bear on the HQ team.  The FAC, who was still stunned by the IED blast, staggered to his feet only to be hit in the shoulder by a shot from an AK.

In the house on the right of the French line the insurgent commander realized his men would not hold for long, he grabbed his money, and with two bodyguards, fell back to a house further east of the point of contact.  He ordered a group of veteran insurgents, which were finishing up morning prayers behind the building to enter the building he had evacuated and destroy the advancing UNSAF force.  On the right end of the French line the company Forward Air Controller bolted over the beet field to take up a position in a ditch south of the road.  Unfortunately, the veterans, 1st Tier insurgents, revealed themselves in the building overlooking the ditch.  The insurgents, men who had experience in southern Asia, Africa and the Caucasus, opened fire on FAC officers, hitting both of them.  The French fireteams further back were shocked to see both the officers fall into the ditch, both obviously hit.

The platoon sergeant reacted quickly, he need to evacuate his dead commander and three seriously wounded comrades.  He called his two VABs and VBL to move forward to give him covering fire; he then gave orders for half his teams to bring fire down on the three units of insurgents while the others prepared to move forward to defend the evacuation.  The sergeant had decided he would finish his fallen commander’s last mission and evacuate the dead and wounded.  His plan, however, started poorly.
He ordered the fireteam to his rear up to move up and defend his position while he organized the evacuation of the wounded.  The team tossed smoke grenades across the northern beet field and charged to the cover of the ditch where their commander lay dead.  The smoke, however did not protect the team, fire from the insurgents in the grain field brought down two of the team.  The medic stabilized one of the wounded, but the second died as he worked on him.

The arrival of the APCs brought heavy fire to bear on the insurgents, but at first their effect was minimal.  The lack of insurgent AT capability was soon obvious, and the combined fire of the vehicles and fireteams soon started to have an effect on the insurgents, with three squad-sized insurgents unit falling under the fire.

The fire was so intense that in a short time the insurgent frontline was either killed, wounded or routed.  The skill of several of the insurgents was clearly apparent to the French, they were obviously up against “1st Tier Insurgents”.  To finish off the enemy in the field the French assaulted the few surviving insurgents.  They discovered a single survivor, wounded.  They stabilized him, cuffed him and dragged him back to the waiting VAB.

During the attack the platoon sergeant was not only directing his men but was using his rifle’s optics to scan the houses beyond the insurgent’s “frontline”.  A careless moment by the insurgent leader doomed himself and his men.  The sergeant could clearly see a man shouting into a radio, the ICOM chatter team at the FOB reported that they had intercepted the ranting commander.  The sergeant put one and one together and requested whatever air support was available to support him.  A G9 Harrier was available and soon a 500lbs bomb was falling towards the house.  The house was obliterated by a direct hit, collapsing most of the building over the insurgent commander and his bodyguards.

The ordeal for the French was potentially not yet over.  As the southern flank moved forward to cover the evacuation of the wounded FAC a man broke cover from behind the red ute and ran at the French.  The crew of the VAB shouted to hold fire as the man was an unarmed civilian.  The fire team against the wall, to the left of the VAB, shouted that the man had a “vest”.  The suicide bomber fell under the fire of three FAMAS rifles.

With the air attack a 100% success the sergeant ordered his platoon to start to fall back, under the protective fire of his vehicles.

At the far end of the grain field appeared a team of insurgents and a utility vehicle mounting a 73mm Recoilless Rocket launcher.  A rocket flew across the field, exploding harmlessly against the VAB.  The M2 machine gun peppered the ute, destroying the vehicle and killing its three occupants.  With the destruction of the ute and the small insurgent team near the ute, the last few surviving insurgents scattered.
The French then collected their men and made an orderly return to the FOB.  The initial French fire had been largely ineffective, but with some organization they were able to bring superior fire to bear and the insurgents were whittled away until they broke.  At the end of the day the area was cleared – a decisive victory versus the insurgents.

The cost for the French, however, had been high.  Lieutenant Jean Pierre and Corporal Nicolas Bruni had been killed in the firefight.  Three men were also seriously wounded, the company FOO, the company FAC and the French radio operator were all evacuated to Malikat.

[A decisive victory for the French, annihilating 7 insurgent teams and the HVT.  The game ran smoothly and as with all our FOF games, nothing felt forced.  During the game we changed our AT-4 house rule to 1-shot with the option to resupply from a vehicle until failure.  We are also playing that one must evacuate your dead and wounded before game end if you are defeated it will lead to major problems leaving dead and wounded.  So far the campaign has supplied balanced and interesting missions.]

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