Combat Mission AAR: MSR Titan

Started by IICptMillerII, May 08, 2019, 06:20:38 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.



At this point, things are looking pretty good. I've established a decent base of fire observing both Bridge objectives as well as the far side of the objectives. So far, things have been relatively quiet.

Back on the elevated road leading to NAI 5, one of the fire teams from 1st platoon spots an enemy tank. It is on the far side on the bridges, in an orchard of small, short trees, surrounded by a dirt berm. They quickly break out the javelin and take aim.

The javelin gunner acquires a lock and fires. The missile flies true, and comes down on top of the turret of the enemy tank, destroying it instantly. There are additional faint contacts in the area, but no one can see anything else yet. It is probably that there is at least a platoon of tanks, maybe more in this orchard. It appears that they are lying in wait for my forces to expose themselves while crossing the Bridges before they attempt to engage.

To deal with this, I'll keep the infantry in position and try to spot more tanks to engage with javelins. I've also made sure that my tanks in a base of fire can observe the dirt berms of the orchards. This way if the enemy does choose to reveal himself, I will have at least 2 assets to engage them, from 2 different angles and at different elevations. This should increase my ability to both spot and engage threats as they appear.

Covered by infantry and tanks, 2 tanks from 2nd platoon move forward across Bridge 31.

They take no fire as they move across the open bridge and encounter no obstacles of any type. The two tanks establish overwatch positions on the far side of Bridge 31. More assets move up and the bridge is strongpointed. Infantry from 2nd platoon begins to move up, mounted in their Bradley's.

They move up and deploy in front of NAI 12. The buildings on this NAI are right next to the MSR and would provide a good place for enemy infantry to set up an ambush against my vehicles.

As this is happening, the infantry along the elevated road spot another T-72AV parked in the orchard. They engage it with a javelin missile, destroying this one as well.


The Bridges (Cont.)

Then the infantry make contact. An enemy radioman is spotted moving between the buildings of NAI 6 up on the ridge. A Bradley from 2nd platoon spots the movement and pumps some 25mm HE rounds into the area.

As 1st squad cautiously advances closer to the buildings of NAI 12, they draw fire. A casualty is suffered, and the squad goes to ground and begins returning fire.

A sharp firefight breaks out. The infantry returns fire as tanks are brought up to pump coax and .50 cal fire into the buildings. A few enemy RPGs are fired at the tanks, but none hit. It's a race to see who can build fire superiority and win the fight.

A fire mission is called in on the buildings up on the ridge on NAI 6 to help suppress/destroy the enemy infantry there.

Abrams along the MSR pump HEAT rounds into the buildings of NAI 12 and quickly help me gain fire superiority.

With the enemy forces near the MSR either destroyed, suppressed, or under direct observation, I move 2 Abrams across Bridge 32 to strongpoint the other side. They take no fire and encounter no obstacles on the bridge or the far side. I now have possession of both Bridge objectives.

I've spoken too soon. Scout team 2 moves up along the left (North) side of the bridge, only to discover what appears to be an entire infantry platoon in foxholes down in the gully directly next to the bridge.

The scouts take a casualty before returning fire. This is a curious threat. It doesn't pose any direct threat to vehicles moving across the bridge, though I can't just leave it be. The enemy infantry could mount a suicidal yet potentially damaging attack from this position so it must be dealt with.

The scouts Bradley moves up to put direct fire down into the enemy foxholes. It is only able to get a few bursts off before it is hit and knocked out by an RPG. Luckily, the crew survives and are able to bail out. Further, the Bradley is not on fire, so there is little risk to the scouts in close proximity.

A moment later, the scouts return fire with their javelin, vaporizing one of the enemy foxholes.

I decide to risk moving a tank forward to put fire into the gulch. I have the tank move forward just enough to only spot one of the enemy foxholes and give it a pause command of 20 seconds. After which the tank will reverse. The maneuver pays off, the tank is able to lay down coax fire and causes a casualty before reversing to safety. No RPGs are fired.

The tank repeats this maneuver and is soon joined by a wingman. The wingman performs the same maneuver but from a different vantage point. They fire both coax and main gun rounds into the foxholes down in the gulch.

1st squad, 2nd platoon takes up a position overlooking the enemy in the gulch. They add their fire to the two tanks, and the enemy position is quickly destroyed.

2nd platoon continues to slowly advance on the buildings of NAI 12. A few enemy infantry make their presence known, but they are quickly bombarded by both small arms and 25mm fire from my infantry and Bradleys. One of the Bradleys fires a TOW into a building, destroying it. The resistance in NAI 12 is rapidly diminishing and the area is soon cleared.

Some stragglers are seen milling around NAI 6 and are sporadically engaged by both Bradleys and infantry. The stragglers appear to be shellshocked and disoriented, wandering around with little semblance of order. At this point I think it is safe to assume that any threat posed by enemy units on NAI 6 has been neutralized. As final insurance, another short but sharp fire mission is called in on the rubble of NAI 6.


Just a quick update for those following along: the final reports are coming, I've just been delayed by IRL scheduling.


Really good.  Thanks for sharing.



Bridges 31 and 32 are secure. Artillery is falling on the remnants of enemy infantry on NAI 6. Casualties are being recovered and tended to. No more enemy forces directly threaten the MSR. Task Force Miller has accomplished its primary objective. However, based on the initial intelligence reports, there should still be a sizeable enemy presence left on the field. A handful of enemy tanks are unaccounted for, and there is likely at least a full company of infantry left out there as well. In short, the enemy still has enough combat power to contest the MSR, if he so chooses.

My forces consolidate around the Bridge objectives and reorganize. No additional enemy forces are spotted. More curious is a complete lack of enemy artillery. I was expecting the bridges to be shelled once I moved onto them, but so far there has been no enemy artillery response. I'm still wary of this and keep an eye out for spotting rounds.

Its time for a little shock and awe. The battlefield is quiet, and SIGINT has been reporting a possible grouping of enemy armor in an orchard, behind a large earthen embankment just forward of the bridges. The JTAC vectors in the flight of 2 A-10s to seek and destroy and targets in the orchard.

A few moments later the A-10's arrive on station. A single MANPAD is fired at them, but the missile misses.

Now it's the A-10's turn. They quickly acquire targets and unleash a flurry of Maverick AGM's, scoring multiple hits in just a matter of seconds.

Smoke clouds soon begin to rise into the sky, indicating direct hits. This proves to be too much for the enemy, and his morale finally cracks. The enemy capitulates.

Task Force Miller successfully completed its objectives. The bridges were secured, the MSR was cleared, and the enemy was destroyed and routed from the field. 2/3rds of an enemy armored battalion was destroyed, and roughly half of an infantry battalion was destroyed as well. Additionally, the enemy lost most of its AFV's and about half of its infantry heavy weapons company.

In comparison, my losses were very light, especially considering what I was up against. The task force has more than enough remaining combat power to continue combat operations, whether that means defending against an enemy counter attack or continuing the attack and exploiting the gains made here.

Special thanks to my opponent for sticking with it despite the losses he took.

I hope everyone has enjoyed the AAR. There will be a quick post combat write-up where I will give details on some technical aspects, and my thoughts on the battle overall. In the meantime, feel free to post any feedback you may have, whether it is tactical or technical.


Congrats on the win against a very large force.



To begin, I'll start by reiterating a few points:

Logistical/Misc Notes on Scenario:

The map is taken from the mini-campaign "Forging Steel" by George MC. The mini-campaign was originally made for Shock Force 1. None of the terrain was modified at all. However, both sides force compositions were completely changed by myself.

The goal of this scenario was to create a plausible force on force engagement. US forces were based on the modern armored brigade combat team TO&E. OpFor forces were based on the formational organization of a Soviet era tank division, though the equipment is not meant to be a 1:1 representation of Soviet forces.

When I first put this scenario together, I wanted to give OpFor armored vehicles (specifically tanks) that could go one to one with US armor. I had done some testing prior to the battle that revealed that the T-72AV TURMS-T is capable of destroying M1A1HC's frontally at combat ranges. However, I did not want the OpFor tanks equipped with the thermal sights, as those types of sights are relatively rare for the type of force depicted by OpFor in this scenario. It turns out that the T-72AV TURMS-T fires better ammo than the T-72AV. I only discovered this after the battle was well underway. Because of this, OpFor was slightly understrength in their armor from how I meant to depict them. While I certainly think OpFor would have fared somewhat better, I do not think the results of the battle would have been drastically different.

A note on C2: unfortunately the way the Syrians are organized in game hinders some of their units from benefiting from a full C2 circuit. Tank units have to be purchased as individual companies to form a battalion. This means that, unless tanks from two different companies are next to each other within ear shot, they do not share information. Again, I do not think this drastically altered the results of this battle. I was attacking down a fairly obvious and open bit of terrain (the MSR) which was covered from multiple angles, all with good line of sight. It is still worth mentioning though. Perhaps Syrian tank battalions will be added in a future patch, or there is some editor magic that can be done to solve this issue?

A final technical note: OpFor got target reference points (TRPs) in this battle, but I forgot to give the US side any. In an attack like this, both sides would have pre-registered fires, simulated in CM as TRPs. This was a minor omission on my part and did nothing to hinder my overall efforts in the battle.

Combat Analysis

What did I do wrong?

The real life point of an AAR is to examine what happened and why, and how to improve for future engagements. In my case, I think the single biggest issue I had was maintaining unit cohesion, especially among my tank platoons. My mechanized infantry managed to stay together for the most part throughout the battle. This is in large part because they are married to the Bradley's they ride into battle with, making them easier to keep from mixing with one another. Tanks are another story. By the end of the battle, all of my tank platoons were mixed up. The smallest tactical unit for infantry is the fireteam. The tank equivalent of the infantry fireteam is a section, or pair. As the battle began to stretch down the MSR, and with the enemy tank ambush, my tanks had to pair up with whatever was closest to them and run with it. Luckily, this did not end up being a major combat concern for me, though that kind of disorganization and unit confusion can be exploited by an enemy to great effect. Its definitely something I have to work on.

The other mistake I made was committing the first Apache against a suspected armor concentration early in the battle. I knew the enemy would have local air defense assets and still risked sending in the Apache. As a result it was shot down, and I could not rely on my significant air power until the end of the battle. Even then, the A-10's took fire from a remaining Igla team and luckily managed to defeat the missile. Proofing air space before committing vulnerable and expensive air assets is another thing I have to work on.

If anyone else thinks I committed a tactical error feel free to mention it.

The Tank Battle:

This was certainly the most exciting part of the whole battle. It all could have been over for my task force right then and there. If the enemy tank ambush was just a bit better timed and hit me simultaneously from two angles at once, I could easily have suffered twice the casualties in half the time. Further, many of my Bradley's were in the open, loaded with infantry. A few volleys into these soft assets could have knocked me out of the battle completely.

That said, given the circumstances I think I did everything correctly. While I did have soft assets exposed in the open, at no point were any of those soft assets, or any assets in the open left uncovered. I had multiple pairs of tanks in overwatch, covering different angles all at the same time. Covering units in the open, and just in general is extremely important, especially in the highly lethal environments found on modern battlefields. A single unchecked volley of enemy fire can be enough to destroy an entire unit in the open before it has a chance to turn itself and engage. In the end it was this simple tactical principle that saved my task force from being decimated early in the fight.

Hill 113 and Route Blue:

At one point I was asked why I did not attempt to take Hill 113. I identified it as key terrain, especially early in the fight where it had dominating lines of sight over my entire task force as it deployed along the MSR. The main reason I decided not to put my forces on the hill was because I did not want to divide my combat power or distract from my main objective. While it is true that Hill 113 was key terrain, it was not an objective. Further, taking the hill would not aid me in taking my main objectives, it would only have helped my task force in the early part of the battle as they deployed. After that, it would have been a slog through urban areas and forests to get to the far side of the hill and assist with the capture of the two bridge objectives. If I had a third company team then I would have committed it to taking the Hill and holding down my flank, but with only two company teams I decided I was better off concentrating on the MSR and the bridges. I believe I made the right decision here.


Despite the lopsided end result, I hope everyone enjoyed following along and found the AAR both entertaining and informational. I think it provides a decent vignette on how company teams operate on a modern battlefield against a conventional enemy. As always, if anyone has any technical or tactical feedback feel free to share. 


Note: in real life the Apache (also the Warthog) would be trying to engage hard targets from a standoff distance, precisely to avoid local anti-air like MANPADS (but also more dedicated long-distance AA assets). Depending on the era, this would involve the platforms launching from something like ballistic range, especially the Longbow from behind masking terrain, as other (less combat-expensive) assets provide targeting (i.e. local specops or maybe a Kiowa, if not the Longbow's own mast system). This is one reason why the Apache, even before the Longbow variant, was fully expected to achieve a 14:1 kill:loss ratio.

My experience with Shockforce games is indirect and limited, but I have never really gotten the impression the system models this effectively.

Consequently, I'm unsure you even could have done anything differently with your air assets other than expose them to risks which would be minimized or eliminated in real life.

ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in lots and lots of chronological order...
Dawn of Armageddon -- narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse
Survive Harder! -- Two season narrative AAR, an Amazon Blood Bowl career.
PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Fantasy Wars narrative AAR, half a combined campaign.
Khazâd du-bekâr! -- narrative dwarf AAR for LotR BfME2 RotWK campaign.
RobO Q Campaign Generator -- archived classic CMBB/CMAK tool!


Quote from: JasonPratt on July 09, 2019, 08:18:51 PM
Note: in real life the Apache (also the Warthog) would be trying to engage hard targets from a standoff distance, precisely to avoid local anti-air like MANPADS (but also more dedicated long-distance AA assets). Depending on the era, this would involve the platforms launching from something like ballistic range, especially the Longbow from behind masking terrain, as other (less combat-expensive) assets provide targeting (i.e. local specops or maybe a Kiowa, if not the Longbow's own mast system). This is one reason why the Apache, even before the Longbow variant, was fully expected to achieve a 14:1 kill:loss ratio.

My experience with Shockforce games is indirect and limited, but I have never really gotten the impression the system models this effectively.

Consequently, I'm unsure you even could have done anything differently with your air assets other than expose them to risks which would be minimized or eliminated in real life.


This topic has come up a few times on the BFC forums. In my experience, air units such as Apaches will use concealed/stand off firing when they are targeting a spotted enemy unit. However, when they are given an area target with no spotted contacts, then they will expose themselves more in order to seek out and destroy targets themselves. This is what happened when I called in both the Apache that was shot down, and the A-10's on the suspected armor concentrations. The aircraft had to "fly over" (not literally, more in the sense that they had to expose themselves more) the target in order to find targets first.

That said, I have not thoroughly tested this. It could be that the times I have called in airstrikes against spotted enemy units and did not get engaged by AA was just luck. Further, I do know that planes such as F-15E Strike Eagles, when ordered to drop a bomb on a building, will still take AA fire even though they should be dropping the bomb from a safe 20,000 feet and above. My personal conclusion is that some form of aircraft stand off is simulated, though it seems to vary widely depending on the situation. I would certainly like to see air support get some behind the scenes coding improvements in future updates, perhaps when the Black Sea module comes out.