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CM Black Sea - Beta Battle Report - US/UKR Side

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This scenario is designed to highlight many of the new features in Combat Mission: Black Sea. Set in late July of 2017, the conflict itself springs from continued antagonism between Russia and Ukraine, and a Ukrainian bid to join the west, NATO and the EU. Continued low-intensity conflict in Luhansk and Eastern Ukraine erupts when Russia moves in to support the separatists openly. A NATO expeditionary force deploys and is soon embroiled in full scale fighting, leading to continued escalation and deployment against a backdrop of Russian full scale invasion and a tremendous campaign for control of the skies. In the North, all focus is on Kiev, with Russian forces pushing hard to completely encircle the city, while a BCT from 3d US Infantry Division, finally completes its deployment and slams into the Russian forces.

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Situation:

0400 hrs, 28 July 2017, Northern Front, North East of Kiev.

The front line has been adjusted on the situation maps more times than any operations officer cares to remember. The 3rd Infantry Division is finally moving to establish a line north east to shield Kiev from the Russian 15th Motorized Brigade which is advancing toward the vital town of Krichek. Ukrainian Home Guard troops are holding the Russians to the north and east with the help of a US Cavalry Squadron.

At 06.00hrs this morning a garbled message came from a Ukrainian home defense unit to the north of Kricheck and then American Cavalry scouts reported intense pressure on the front lines to the north and north east by strong Russian Armored units. Forced to fall back or be overrun, the Cavalry elements tried to keep the Russians from splitting the defenses. All was going well until a strong thrust by the 15th Motor Rifle Brigade and the 27th Guards Armored Brigade struck a seam between disorganized Cavalry Troops, and rushed toward Krichek. A Russian breakthough was achieved.

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Flash Message

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Ukrainian Home Guard company and Security Force Assistance Team have been encircled in and around the town of Krichek.

Friendly forces still hold the power station, Ukrainian Government Grain Storage Facility, Textile Mill, The Town and require relief ASAP.

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Enemy Forces

Russian forces appear to be from the 27th Guards Armored Brigade and the 15th Motor Rifle Brigade. These two units have been rotating troops into and out of the area along the 3rd Infanrty Divisions front line to the east and north east. These units appear to have been rebuilt after earlier operations in early July.

In the area of operations the Russians have deployed at least 2 motor rifle companies and 2 platoons of Armor from the 15th motor Brigade in positions around the town of Krichek.

Support elements from the 15th motor rifle brigade along with a company of Armor from the 27th Guards Armored Brigade are also nearing the eastern edge of the area in question.

Attack Helicopters and some strike aircraft have been detected heading toward the Krichek area and with this support the Russians may be about to take the town and industries.

Friendly Forces

Ukrainian 4th Home Guard company - in and around Krichek and its vital Industries.

US SFAT assigned to 4th HG CO.

1st ABCT, 3rd Infantry Division BCT - west of Kricheck, preparing to counter attack and relieve Krichek and its defenders.

A Co 21st UKR Mech (OPCON)

Stetson 32 2 x AH-64D Longbow

Cougar 44 2 x F-15E Strike Eagles.

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Mission

NLT 0815, TF 3-69AR “Speed and Power” attacks in zone to seize Krichek and relieve UKR Home Guards Company and US SFAT to deny Russian control of river crossing and eliminate Russian Mech/Armor forces in zone.

Execution: UKR 21st Mech BN(-) establishes support by fire position focused on CPs E and G to secure TF approach march and focus RUS forces on penetration from center sector. O/o, B and C Teams envelop RUS mech elements, seizing key terrain and focusing fires to control primary crossing point on river. D Co (the main effort) follows C Co in the South, assaults through CP G to seize crossing and execute link up with encircled forces. Key to this operation is effective ID and neutralization of RUS AT systems in zone, effective use of screening smoke, and tactical patience to allow CAS/RWATK to attrit RUS forces.

Pidpolkovnyk (PdPK/LTC) Borys Levchenko looked out and across the tall field of oilseed rape as he contemplated the terrain. Kapitan Vasyl Antonyuk his first company commander peered through his binoculars a few meters away. SGT Michael Lerner, US Army crouched behind a tree, with his ever-present interpreter surreptitiously smoking a cigarette. The field rose up to the east in front of them, and was bordered on the far side by the edges of tree farm. In to the right they could catch glimpses of the highway to and could see the tops of the stacks from the Ukepor Power Station standing out above the trees to the southeast. To the northeast, he could just see the rooftops of the town of Krichek. The Pidpolkovnyk contemplated the mission before him. His friend, and former neighbor, Pidpolkovnyk Tymoshenko was the “Home Guard” commander in Krichek. Activated from his reserve status in Kiev, and sent to Krichek, Tymo had phoned Borys yesterday morning to tell him that Krichek had been encircled by Russian forces. Though authorized to leave, Tymo had been unable to muster sufficient transport for his men. He had gotten about a hundred out in his last trucks, but had kept his meager armor and intended to make the Russians pay in blood to stabilize this part of their front line. Amazingly, their Amerykans’ky vzvod of Advisors had remained with them in the town, despite ample time to withdraw. Borys glanced over at Lerner – a mere Sergeant, assigned to him, a Lieutenant Colonel of Mechanized Infantry, with combat experience stretching back to the first fight for Donetsk in 2014! The Sergeant’s boss was a Major – Borys had met him once a week ago at Brigade HQ and not seen him since. In fairness, SGT Lerner from the American 3rd Infantry Division, had made an effort to be deferential and sincere. He had twice made significant contributions, once by supplying Borys with American Satellite photos and maps of the area around Kiev, and once by showing him video feed from an Amerykans’kyy bezpilotnyk drone, which had neatly identified a Russian ambush on the highway ahead, and a saved one of LTC Levchenko’s companies a tough fight. Borys was grateful for the help, and even more grateful for the might of the US military, amazingly committed to freeing his country from the tyranny of the Russian oppressors. Levchenko had followed US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly his whole professional life, and had marveled at the diplomatic naiveté and blunt arrogance of America. Never in his wildest dreams had he imagined they would commit to shedding blood – likely in no small quantities – for the sake of his homeland’s unity and freedom. He contemplated Lerner a moment more, and then returned to the task at hand.

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Levchenko’s mechanized battalion was still recovering from a rocket strike that smashed into his assembly area a week prior. The total casualty count was 112 men, 23 of them dead. The battalion was now awaiting reconstitution from Kiev. Only the 3rd Company remained combat effective – in fact untouched from the strike. They were now behind him, neatly and efficiently herring boned along a low dry creekbed, awaiting his order to attack. Before them, somewhere between their position in the woods and the distant Krichek rooftops, were the Russians, awaiting them. Borys knew – because SGT Lerner had told him – that the better part of a Russian mech battalion lay between him and his friend. He had seen the American’s intel feed on the Sergeant’s tactical tablet, and thought that the Americans certainly did have incredible toys. He just hoped that they could fight as well. Thus far he had not fought directly alongside the US forces, although the stories from his friend in 2d Brigade sounded quite promising – supposedly their Abrams tanks were all but invincible! Well, they were not here yet, and Borys’ commander had relayed that preparing the battlefield before Krichek for them was Borys’ and his men’s job.

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Levchenko considered the ground. He was positioned at right side of a commanding wooded slope that he sincerely hoped held no Russians scouts. Borys intended to occupy this hill as swiftly as possible. Though likely to draw artillery, it commanded most of the ground all the way to Krichek, and with the sporadic trees on its slopes would make an ideal spot for a couple of observer teams. To his rear lay the little ville of Starov, currently occupied by his mortar Battery and Antonyuk’s 1st Platoon. Borys relayed to KPT Antonyuk that this platoon should assume tactical overwatch positions in and forward of the village and neutralize any Russians in the treeline to their front. For the rest of his lone company Borys intended to maneuver forward onto the right slopes of the hillside. In this way they need only engage the Russians on the right, with their left secured from observation against the slope. Once they held fire superiority to their right, they could slip forward and secure the tree farm. Though it offered scant cover, it was ideally positioned as a jump off point to move on either Krichek itself or the power plant. The little farm track that led along the right side of the hill seemed to offer some good low ground to screen much of this move, so Borys was fairly confidant in reaching the tree farm. Once there, SGT Lerner had told him that US forces were not far behind. In fact, though he had not seen them, Borys knew that a US recon force was maneuvering on the left side of the same hill he was moving to occupy. Lerner’s tablet also revealed a Russian mech PLT just east of the hill, reinforced with at least one tank. Borys was wary of this, but all in all he preferred a close in fight with the Russians. They had similar equipment, and the short range knife fight that ensued would likely go to the one who seized the initiative.

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1LT Glenn Upham from Rockingham, NC, otherwise known as “Outlaw 16,” trembled with excitement as he gazed down from the side of a bare hill past waving fields of wheat and barley to the distant rooftops of Krichek a mile and a half or so to his east. A veteran of the closing days of US involvement in Afghanistan, he new he was exposed, and should try to slither down the slope to his idling Bradley, but he needed to see and understand what lay to his front, so he accepted the risk a little longer. Upham had labored his whole military career to overcome the accident of his name – how was he at fault for the fact that the mousy clerk typist from “Saving Private Ryan” was also named Upham? Well, CPL Upham had survived to the end of that fight, and Glenn firmly intended to survive this one. BCT HQ had clearly shown the Russian mech battalion moving into sector the day prior. The Brigade S-2 still thought he had firm grids on several vehicles. Further, the reports from the Security Force Assistance Team (SFAT) that had hung on with the Home Guard force in Krichek confirmed the strength of the force to their front. Upham knew it was his PLT’s job to ferret out their specific locations and survive the effort, to pave the way for the other battalion elements that followed him. He could even now see his PLT SGT, SFC Bagby, working his HMMWV scout section forward to get better observation. His main concern was what to do if they found anything. Though he had solid comms to BN, the Battle CPT had told him that they would not have priority of fires for another quarter hour or so. He had called up SGT Lerner with the Ukrainian Battalion to his right and coordinated for mortar support, but had no real confidence in the speed, accuracy or ammunition supply of their allies, especially if both units were in contact simultaneously. Lerner had assured him that their friends had both ammo and competence, but admitted they were not too speedy. Upham spoke in a low voice, checked the text message in his tablet for accuracy, and hit ‘send’ requesting an update on A CO’s ETA, and then gathered up his binos to slip back down to his track.

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In Krichek, Major Nathan Harris cursed as he hit another rock. He and his driver were digging a couple of quick foxholes, as Harris would not let the young PFC do both himself. Despite the fact that they were right next to a stone building, Harris routinely insisted on burrowing into the soil for cover. PFC Beach had silently bitched, whined and cussed him – communicating without vocalizing a word – every time they did, right up until the first time they were shelled by Russian 122mm Howitzers. Since then Beach had taken to simply asking Harris if he wanted the HMMWV’s shovel or pick first every time they stopped. Beach was also eager to scrounge up something to replace the three heavy railroad ties he had used for overhead cover and had been forced to abandon at their last hasty departure from Khirovorad ten days prior. Harris stopped for a moment and swigged some bottled water. PdPK Tymoshenko was a solid Soldier, for an air defender, and Harris was impressed that he had stayed with his remaining troops until further evacuation of the town became impossible. But their disposition in Krichek worried him. They had seen signs of the Russians’ advance, and Harris had followed along on his BFT2 and shared the scene with Tymo, laying out the Russian recon CO’s general frontline trace as they reconnoitered around the town, and now he looked at the solid red blobs that represented much more significant Russian Armor and Mech forces. Though they had some good support weapons and a fair amount of ammo, Harris feared they could not survive a determined assault. Their meager supply of mines was barely enough to provide harassing defense on a few intersections, and aside from some hastily strung wire they had no other fortifications. Harris helped Tymo plan for some deception with the wire, hoping to force the Russians to deploy and treat each obstacle as (doctrinally) overwatched by fire. The two of them had withdrawn their remaining forces to the corner of town nearest the bridge, their only potential means of escape, and had barricaded up the Town Hall as a mini fortress. ATGMs were sighted for short, quick shots and their ADA weapons had abandoned their primary role and were sighted now to provide quick, lethal automatic fires. After much debate, Tymo had pulled all but two of his five squads of infantry into the town and away from the critical power station and grain storage sites. They simply didn’t have enough men or support weapons to squander them all over the place, and Harris knew they would find ample challenge defending the town. He pulled up his BFT2 message screen to see if there was any update on 3-69 Armor – “Speed & Power” movement forward.

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Great Scott! That's a hell of a briefing to start with. Now, we await your...wait for it...ATTACK!!!

Give the same command I give to my men: Order them to advance and, when they get hit, to make sure they fall with their arms stretched out towards the enemy so the rest of us will know where to aim!

Good luck.

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pnzrldr why the story? You know it's a fight against Bill in a virtual arena set by CMBS, not the real russians in Ukraine... i think atm the story fails to immerse me and it just reads weird:confused:

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pnzrldr why the story? You know it's a fight against Bill in a virtual arena set by CMBS, not the real russians in Ukraine... i think atm the story fails to immerse me and it just reads weird:confused:

I think its great, adds some flavor to the AAR and you may care just a bit more about those pixel troops in it!

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pnzrldr why the story? You know it's a fight against Bill in a virtual arena set by CMBS, not the real russians in Ukraine... i think atm the story fails to immerse me and it just reads weird:confused:

It's his AAR - let him do with it as he pleases. I think he's done a good job adding some ambiance to his reports.

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pnzrldr why the story? You know it's a fight against Bill in a virtual arena set by CMBS, not the real russians in Ukraine... i think atm the story fails to immerse me and it just reads weird:confused:

I disagree COMPLETELY! Your writing is excellent. If you expanded this into a "Team Yankee" for a new generation, I will buy it, in hardback. It also makes hope that much harder that we can talk Putin out of doing this for real. The implications of an all out fight for control of Ukrainian airspace are sort of staggering, in both lives and money.

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I think its great, adds some flavor to the AAR and you may care just a bit more about those pixel troops in it!

Agreed, the creative back story and characterisation is really immersive and fun to read.

Thanks for taking time with this.

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dan/Luke/Raptor, well hey I'm just voicing my thoughts. As awesome as the story is and reminds me a lot of Team Yankee, isn't the focus here to BEAT BILL instead of umm.. writing a good novel?!?! If it were a single player DAR it would be more than cool to zone out and fantasize a storyline, but in this case I think it dilutes the real mission objective!

Bottom line: I'm always rooting for the underdog, really hoping it's not just a repeat of the CMRT beta AAR. Haven't you heard that hardcore wargamers trump the real guys in wargaming? Dangerous start here, dangerousgreis_zps34a067f1.gif

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As awesome as the story is and reminds me a lot of Team Yankee, isn't the focus here to BEAT BILL instead of umm.. writing a good novel?!?!

He can do both you know..

Keep it up pnzrldr..the start is more than excellent!

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Loved reading the made-up inner thoughts of the officers. Avalon Hill's "The General" magazine published something similar years ago for a "Panzer Blitz" scenario AAR and I still remember it to this day. I don't know "Team Yankee" but do remember reading a book about a single combat team's view of a battle in a hypothetical "Fulda Gap" style WWIII engagement years ago which I don't remember the title of, and it read just like this. Maybe it was the same book, though I seem to recall it was a British unit, so maybe not.

Anyway, don't listen to the doubters, in my mind I'm already with these guys in the field waiting with anticipation and dread for the coming battle!

[EDIT] Just did a search in Amazon and I think that book I read was "First Clash" (Kenneth Macksey, 1985) about a Canadian unit being attacked by a Soviet Motor Rifle battalion at the outbreak of WWIII.

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Pnzrldr, hi,

Great stuff... very entertaining.. and very well written.

A saw a review for CMRT that said amongst other things that CM had “become cinematic...” I agree. I used to play Real Time using the Pause command as my default but now I play Turn based so as to get the time to Lock the camera right down close behind units in replays. Fantastic.

Your write-up gives that same feel. Prefect.

I always bond with my digital heroes.. Normally play Russian and truly “hate..” to see any casualties. Within the limitations of what CM is, such as the single controlling mind, I think it does a great job and in big WWII battles at least you certainly can get casualties down to historic level if you play slowly and carefully. Don’t rush. Every life counts :).

This gives that same feel.

Have not looked at contemporary, high intensity warfare for years because there was no real world prospect between countries even close to being in the same ballpark. Globally this is now changing very quickly. Normal competition between nation states is back and not going away. So very timely.

Great write-up, good to bond with your guys, I will be doing the same as I normally take the part of Russians when I get CMBS ;).

Congratulations.. ;).

All the best,

Kip.

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Yeah, I like this style too. I actually had written some of an AAR for CMFI that jumped back and forth between the tactical situation and the experiences of the individual units but the game got aborted. I stole the idea from reading Henrich505's very cool Pz Command AARs. It adds depth and immediacy to the battle, so count me in. Awesome stuff, pnzrldr, I am looking forward to more.

Mord.

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