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

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We haven't met the relief force commander yet. I am sure he will discuss his operational plan in some detail. We might even get a formal op order. I will eat my hat, the old smelly one, if we aren't VERY well informed by the end.

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Acknowledge the need for a broader overview of the fight and of the thinking behind it. I am admittedly making few major tactical decisions right now - just trying to consolidate and expand the positions I hold to the NW and SW of Hill 347, defeat Russian security/screening elements to my front, and hinder Russian attempt to seize 347. Assuming I can do these things, I will then begin work on how to bring my reinforcing American companies on and maneuver them to destroy or dislodge the Russian defenses between me and Krichek, and how to deal with the Russian Mech company still consolidated to the south. Very concerned about reinforcement arrival in the Northern half of the map - not sure where they pop out and strongly hoping it is not in immediate direct fire contact. I doubt LT Upham will attrit to many of the positions up there without getting killed (and I'd like him to make it!). So - if I can get the scenario designer to feed me the names of the 3-69 Commander and S-3, they can have a little discussion over a map for all of us to listen to. If not, I'll keep it out of italics and lay it out for everyone. I really don't want to step 'out of role' too often on this, but fully understand the need to see and understand the battle, as well as the decisions I am making in fighting it.

A few things:

1. Most of the units in Krichek are 'hiding' in buildings until the arty is over. I've found it increases survivability, but sacrifices most spotting. Deliberate choice since they are essentially pinned in the town anyway.

2. I did pull the ATGM team off the building roof. Flat roofs give great firing platforms, but you tend to stick out. The comments about airburst rounds are correct - you will see them much more often/effective in this title over WWII. Also, the Russian BMP-3s that I assume are liberally scattered all over the map each have a 100mm cannon which is extremely effective at medium range destruction of point troop targets, especially when firing multiple rounds (target briefly x 2 or 3). Will probably pop the team back up - the Corsar has no extended setup time, so popping up for a turn or two is possible. May also see about generating a more expendable observer, and then bringing them up from lower floors once a target presents.

3. Call for fire times are reduced over previous titles. I didn't play original SF so don't know how it reflected there, but UKR 120mm mortars on map are showing between 4 and 6 minutes. I regret to say that the mission called in by our hapless artillery observation vehicle will not be landing as scheduled, but assure you I will get the 120's into play shortly.

4. ATGMs are an interesting dynamic, and require players to experiment some. They can kill across literally the entire range of the map. Some older/smaller can be defeated by ERA. Most can be defeated by APS. All have some chance to kill despite these systems, but odds are against you taking out an Abrams from the front at 3k with a Metis-M. Javelin, on the other hand, is lethal against nearly anything. Players will need to learn the different systems and their capabilities and limitations. You'll also want to frequently make use of 'target armor arcs' to prevent your teams from flinging them away at enemy infantry. Believe the tac AI is mostly cured of this annoying habit, but it may resurface. Teams carrying a lot of reloads also fatigue rapidly when moving 'quick' for any distance.

5. Don't have one yet, but the UAS are coming and they add a fascinating component. We have pretty good pre-battle intel right now, but once we have a couple of ravens up it will increase our picture of Russian disposition dramatically. We'll also have some sort of interdiction by his ADA weapons, which will provide cool screenies if it does nothing else.

6. In all the fighting I do in this scenario, I am generally very aware of LOS and terrain considerations. If you have seen Bil's examination of 'finding' hull down positions, I learned from him. It is especially critical in modern warfare, as thermals and multiple sets of sensors make for quicker spotting times. I am much less formal in my analysis though, so you won't see a mapped out OCOKA from me. I am a couple turns ahead right now, and am on pins and needles to see whether my latest firing orders - mostly based around 15-20 second exposures - were too aggressive and get my AFVs zapped. I will try to show it, but the folks in Starov have no LOS across the field to their east to the Tree farm and the Russian positions there. This will develop into an interesting maneuver to try and get them into the fight alive, along with causing me to send some elements up onto the near south slopes of 347 to try and spot them as well. We'll see how it goes.

7. I follow some potentially counter-intuitive principals for maneuver. First and foremost, as a tanker I was taught that low ground is your friend and high ground is usually bad. Over exposure gets you dead more frequently than height advantage imparts firing advantage. Low ground masks your movement too, making you harder to spot by defending assets. I like to use overwatch when possible, but am even more into mutual support. I hate exposing single vehicles for a shot, and like to try and bring up multiple assets at once to present hard decisions for adversary gunners. Sometimes this results in two burning hulks rather than one, but more often I find that at least one asset gets off a killing shot before the target. And I LOVE suppression.

More to follow soon. I know Bil is travelling for the holiday, though I am not, but he will likely be moving somewhat slowly this week. We will try and keep the tempo up.

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pnzrldr,

I love this DAR approach and find it reminiscent of the beginning line of Hackett's (of 3rd RTR and 1st AB fame) The Third World War August 1985: "Black Horse One Zero, Black Horse One Zero, this is Shovel 6, Confirming Charlie One's sighting as follows:..." The military professional shines through, but you are a gifted writer who really knows how to draw in your reader. I like the use of Ukrainian terms, am learning about previously unknown weaponry, e.g. Corsar, and you've neatly nailed down the differences between them and their US fellows.

Turning now to the battle proper, I think Bil made a big mistake by letting you have the US, since that's your profession. I can't speak to the measure you've taken of each other, beyond what you stated, but what you know about how Bil fights is probably worth more than several AFVs to you in terms of shaping the battle to your advantage. Speaking of advantage, that was quite the exploding rectal probe you gave his AFV!

The jargon is causing me a few problems, but you explain some of the terms later. If possible, could you provide a quick decrypt on them? That would help. In my military aerospace days, I was primarily a Red Hat guy, and I'm probably a tech generation behind what we had circa ODS. I got the meaning of the "S" wrong in "SFAT," and to me, a CP is a command post, but I'm not sure what it is in your DAR. The scout doing his thing was cool, for my brother was one and served on Bradley CFVs and Hummers before taking over the 2nd ID's pioneering 3 SBCT's TOC.

Do you have LRAS? What about DU? I find the unconventional format (diamond thingies) tactical symbology confusing, and am relieved to see the usual variety here, except for OPFOR. What, given the pronounced American deficit in ADA, is your take on facing a potential air threat? The last time the US came under real air attack (as opposed to Korea's "Washing Machine Charlie") was WW II. This is something I worried about professionally, but back then, we had HAWK at least, Roland (which Hughes built) looked like it was a goer, the long in service Chapparal and Vulcan were major players, too, but with little range. Stinger was out, followed by the rather anemic Avenger, a sort of M15/M16 HT type hybrid weapon platform. I recall reading of tests in which Mi-24s came roaring in on the deck, hit and were gone before the Stinger guys could even react. If they did get a shot, it was for revenge only, since the protected objective was a flaming ruin.

If an OPFOR UAV (no idea if he has any) comes buzzing overhead, do you plan to kill it or leave it alone and hope it doesn't see something you don't want it to? Again, this is a new experience to US troops, who are used to having the skies to themselves.

How concerned are you about the post AT-6 Russian ATGMs, whether ground or air launched? Do you have any on-vehicle ECM/EOCM other than obscurants which cover both the visual and IR bands? BTW, the Russians had theirs years before we did. In service by at least 1978, as FSTC told me; we didn't get ours until relatively recently.

On balance, how do you feel about fighting a serious and at least fairly capable OPFOR? One able to bring US style high tech pain to the fight? Once more, this is turf the US military has, save for highly classified exceptions here and there, not trod. I completely agree with Steve's comment in the Ukraine vs Russia thread about how superior our training is to theirs, something which should be reflected in unit stats.

Regards,

John Kettler

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One thing nobody's mentioned yet (unless I missed the post). I believe there may be some ECM countermeasure in play. If they're playing the same map that I've seen Allies would have a light ECM capability against the Russians. This would be an 'open secret', agreed between both sides before game starts. Unless 1) they forgot to check ECM status beforehand, or 2) they agreed to change the setting for the AAR battle. Bil or pnzrldr will have to confirm.

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I think your last post was what the viewers needed, and wanted pnzrldr to bettter understand the overall picture and your thought processes. As for the original creative writing approach I think if you keep a mixed balance between the role playing narrative, and your thoughts as the player it will maintain your creative buzz/fun while satisfying the want to know more whats going on in your mind. Most of all I'd like to see you have fun with your AAR, and thank your for your time I know that goes into putting it together.

I do hope through your AAR that you talk about new game features, and your knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the units. Good tip about not neglecting to use the benefits of using low ground vs high.

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yeah I agree that with the lethality and accuracy of US systems high ground is a liability for the US.. but... that being said... being on higher ground could be beneficial for hitting weak spots on the frontal armor (top turret, top hull) of the M1A2 (it also negates the great sloping of the armor which makes a penetration easier) for the russians but I guess the disadvantages of exposing oneself on higher ground would offset the advantages. But for infantry on top of wooden hills it would be great. That's the beauty of the M1A2.. it's not invincible.. far from it... but you have to concentrate on negating their effect and the measures you take can make you vulnerable to other threats

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John – thanks for the praise, and glad everyone else is enjoying this as well. I do know a bit about Bil’s approach, but we shall see how important or unimportant that is. Him bum-rushing Hill 347 is uncharacteristic to say the least.

On jargon, I often forget, but will try. I present the briefing up front in a reasonable approximation of actual Army format – perhaps 70% - to try and apply actual flavor; like real vs. artificial sweetener. SFAT is Security Force Assistance Team and is the currently approved name for a team of US advisors assigned to assist host nation forces. They can either be embedded or commute (under current COIN construct) but we have assumed they are now performing an advisory and liaison role, rather than some of the other roles required when working with less robust counterparts. CP is in fact a command post, but is also a Check Point, meaning a multi-purpose reference on a map that may or may not have any importance attached. “Meet me 500m north of CP41,” “orient your fires on CP24” or “proceed on route X-Ray and report CPs in sequence as you clear them,” are all valid uses of the term.

The scout HMMWV which will feature in the next post, and which does some nice suppression on one of Bil’s BMP-3s, is equipped with Long-Range Advance Scout Surveillance System (LRAS), a very powerful thermal sight unit, as well as an Mk-19 40mm automatic grenade launcher. Quite possibly the LRAS allowed him to achieve hard-spot on the BMP first and get off the suppressing fire before being engaged with fires he could not match. DU = depleted uranium, and features in both the armor package and the kinetic energy armor piercing fin stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS-DU) rounds that the Abrams and Bradley fire. Fairly sure the Russian ammunition has it as well. It is simply the highest density metal that could be found for use in what is – for all intents and purpose – a really fast dart, intended to penetrate armor by sheer velocity and impact. The fact that armor so penetrated flash heats by friction to unendurable temperatures is just a nice side effect (from the standpoint of the shooter, not the receiver).

With respect to ADA I do actually have a single Ukrainian SAM launcher on map – I just haven’t talked about him yet. He is stationary to the rear of hill 347 awaiting orders. Not sure if the TF Speed and Power boys have their Stingers with them or not, but if they do I will position them tactically and you can all see what they do. One of the MAJOR aspects of our air defense capability not covered in this game is the advent of precision airburst munitions for our combat vehicles. PABM means that the ballistic computer communicates with the round in the breach and tells it exactly how far to fly before detonating. The Abrams new Advanced Multi-Purpose round (AMP) does exactly that. It has a VERY effective full 120mm HE/FRAG warhead which can (in point detonation mode) breach walls and defeat light armor; set to delay, it can destroy bunkers and knock out positions in buildings or heavy cover; set to PABM the gunner can lase to a target and then toggle a certain number of meters to fly before detonating – so lase to the tree by the infantry trench, raise your sights a couple meters, fire, and the round detonates right above their heads. Same if they are around a corner. If you lase to an aircraft, even at quite long range, and then fire, you stand a good chance of getting the round close enough to achieve ‘significant effect’ on a low flying aircraft. People don’t quite get just effective the Abrams is at picking up targets, especially if warned on their Blue Force Tracker II (BFT II) network system by an integrated Brigade/Division level air defense radar or even AWACs downlink. Figure if it is flying above the horizon inside 4k of an M1A2SEPV2 Platoon and they know it is a bad guy, it will have a very bad day. However, while CMBS does model the AMP, the decision was made to restrict ADA fires to dedicated ADA vehicles or forces. If we try to merge too much of our actual unit targeting effort (because everyone could shoot at helicopters, small UAS, even low altitude fast movers) we would get bogged down in counter air operations. Keeping it this way retains a clean focus on ground warfare, while still allowing for the role and impact of close air support and autonomous aerial platforms. Worth noting that the Russians have a moderately less effective PABM capability as well, and I believe it is modeled too. Will show some effects of that in my next post.

I am enormously concerned about modern ATGMs in anyone’s hands. Watching feed from Syria and Israel is very illuminating. I cannot discuss specifics, but modern threat systems are very challenging, and the Israeli solution of the Trophy Active Protection System (APS) is a potential game-changer. It was very effective in Operation Protective Edge, and for game purposes we have assumed that US Abrams and Bradleys have been retrofitted/upgraded with a similar system. It detects and shoots down incoming ATGMs, RPG, Recoilless and other munitions with an explosively formed penetrator linked to a radar with a VERY fast processor. Look it up on Youtube. However, we also assume that perhaps not ALL vehicles were so upgraded, so both versions are available in the editor. US vehicles are also fitted with the latest array of ERA which is currently operational, although photos of the newest explosive reactive armor (ERA) on the Abrams are not widely distributed so the Abrams Reactive Armor Tiles II (ARAT II) may look fairly unusual. On Abrams, Bradley and Stryker the ERA provides a better solution to HEAT projectiles than a slat-armor solution, but with moderately greater risk to nearby personnel. This trade off is undesirable in COIN so you have seen Strykers in AFG/IZ with the slat deployed, however you will see them with their ERA in the game. I am simply not at liberty to talk about other EO/EW solutions on our vehicles – sorry. You can assume that we have some capabilities along these lines, that’s about it.

You will, however, see abstracted EW effects as a scenario condition for each side. I believe both Bil and I are laboring under ‘low’ ECM conditions right now. Hard to determine actual effects, but it may become evident later on when I get some UAS and other US assets into play.

I have no idea how much smoke I have. The three 120mm UKR mortars on map now have several rounds per tube, but not a plethora. I don’t yet have access to any other assets, although you may notice that onboard launchers are used a LOT in this title, as they are assumed to be tied in with laser warning receivers and ‘soft kill’ APS systems.

Fighting a real near-peer OPFOR? Not on my list of desired outings, unless we are talking about the refocused ‘Decisive Action Training Environments’ put together by our dedicated OPFOR (and my old unit, the 11th ACR “Blackhorse!”) out at our National Training Center (we have two other Centralized Training Centers, but NTC is IMHO the best, having been to all three). They worked very hard for years to simulate conditions in Iraq and AFG to execute ‘mission rehearsal exercises’ (MREs) for our deploying Brigades, but are now back to the old-school ass whooping they used to do on our maneuver forces to beat them into shape for full up combat. The DATE approach actually combines aspects of counter-insurgency and wide area security operations with a hybrid threat of irregular forces, backed up by full scale mechanized capability. It is a very tough scenario to do well at, and challenges both schoolhouse skills and recent combat experience. I would love to go back out and do that, but am regrettably probably past that point in my career <sigh!> But hey, you never know!

More to follow, hopefully this evening. If I don’t get it done, no promises for Thanksgiving, but I’ll do my best. Oh, and I am building a new rig to improve CM performance, so will be shopping for components over Black Friday. Wish me luck!

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On jargon, I often forget, but will try.

Oh good. My dad brought home a lot of jargon and acronyms but that was nearly 30 years ago now there seem to be some new ones :-). Is there an acronym definition web site that might help. I looked for one yesterday trying find out what some of the one you used were can came up disappointed. When trying to figure out what LRAS was I found a couple of site that claimed to be for looking up military acronyms but came up with nothing - sigh.

US vehicles are also fitted with the latest array of ERA which is currently operational, although photos of the newest explosive reactive armor (ERA) on the Abrams are not widely distributed so the Abrams Reactive Armor Tiles II (ARAT II) may look fairly unusual. On Abrams, Bradley and Stryker the ERA provides a better solution to HEAT projectiles than a slat-armor solution, but with moderately greater risk to nearby personnel.

Oh this is a nasty way to go. These kinds of active protection systems create an added thing you need to play attention to when coordinating your combined arms. You of course often want an infantry screen of some kind for your armour vehicles and you want the firepower of the AFV to be close enough to be useful to the infantry but you have to pay attention to that separation.

Oh, and I am building a new rig to improve CM performance, so will be shopping for components over Black Friday. Wish me luck!

New toys at home and at work - nothing better :D

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Pnzrldr, hi,

I certainly do enjoy your write-ups.

Now for some talk about the toys :).

You have all been very careful and balanced about which kit to model. No fantasy kit which is a huge relief. Also... with time things will obviously narrow down to actual kit as at 2017.

My one beef is the lack of RPG 30/32. Why? They pre-date APS in NATO hands by so much that it’s inconvincible that in any likely clash, this year, next year any time, they would not be around.

Of course all depends on the assumptions about the type/generation of APS used. But against first generation Trophy I believe it/they do what it claims to do.

New types of APS such as what I know as Trenchcoat will one day turn up. Then new types of AT weapons that attempt to overcome them.

All good fun,

All the best,

Kip.

PS. Kornet-D and Tigr “complex.”? Maybe later when actually issued ;).

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I really think people should let Pnzrldr write the DAR how ever he feels like.

+1. Let the guy tell it how he wants, it's a lot of work, better he can enjoy himself while doing it.

-F

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It's what, 3 minutes in and all you've done is hide and skulk? Gadzooks! It's at least 2 minutes late for an ATTACK!!!

;)

I like the briefings...nice job mixing the announcer with the first person perspectives.

Ken

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It's what, 3 minutes in and all you've done is hide and skulk? Gadzooks! It's at least 2 minutes late for an ATTACK!!!

;)

I like the briefings...nice job mixing the announcer with the first person perspectives.

Ken

and no commercials. definitely kills the history channel!

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Immersive briefings.... game feels more corporeal with this type of narrative.

I think "Gadzooks!" come in the next CMBS Module ;)

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PdPK Borys Levchenko watched as the mechanized infantrymen scrambled to execute KPT Antonyuk’s orders. As the 3rd PLT BMPs moved out to swing north, 2nd PLT began pulling up on line with Borys’ observation position. He nodded as he recognized the opening steps of the dance against the Russian vehicles and troops they had spied in the treeline ahead and by the tree farm. The Battalion Commander tsk’ed to himself as he realized that he and his security detachment were in the likely line of the Russian return fire. But, he didn’t want to his men to see him backing down or sending them to face what he was unwilling. He signaled Molodshiy Serzhant Mischenko, his BMP gunner: “Mischa, fire the smoke to cover his move!” he shouted. The attentive Sergeant’s head popped back down inside the track, and a second later the vehicle pivoted a few degrees to the left, and with a ‘Pop-pop-pop-pop!” a volley of smoke grenades arced into the field, belching black smoke. It was scant cover, but better than nothing Borys figured. He watched as the 2nd PLT lead vehicle moved up, its rear doors swinging open, infantrymen hurriedly offloading before the vehicle crested the fields edge and exposed itself to enemy fire as it began scanning for targets. He turned back and scanned the far treeline with his binoculars, praying to himself that his men would spot the enemy vehicles first. As he watched, behind the treeline, the first rounds of a new sheaf of artillery rained down on the Ukepor Power Station.

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In Krichek, artillery also continued to pound the town. MAJ Harris ground his teeth as yet another shell detonated with a bone-jarring “Tchunnng!”

“That sounds like Vulcan’s own hammer!” Beach shouted.

“What, you reading Percy Jackson again? Aren’t you a little old for that?” Harris shouted back. His Netwarrior vibrated, and he quickly scanned the new message. SFC Doty reported that all of his troops were accounted for thus far, and none injured – surprisingly good news, considering the volume of fire. Harris looked up as he heard the another distinct sound over the artillery’s intermittent crash – a mechanical chuckle, as the AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher gunner at the south end of town opened up. Harris knew the weapon was positioned to cover the village on the far side of the river crossing and wondered what was drawing the gunner’s fire. They had mined approach to the bridge on both sides, but not thoroughly enough to stop a determined push, and it was vital to keep the bridge itself open. Despite the fact that the Russians were on the other side, friendly lines lay beyond them, and Harris for one had no interest in seeing the inside of a Russian POW camp. As an advisor team leader, he had gotten the classified SERE brief during his hasty train up before deployment. It was unknown exactly what the Russian policy on western EPWs would be, so the instructors had used examples of captured Afghan Mujahedeen and Islamic Chechen rebels. Needless to say, that was more than enough to convince the advisor leaders that death might indeed be preferable to capture. Harris’ tablet vibrated once again, and he cursed this time as he read it. One of the Home Guard ATGM teams had taken casualties. SFC Doty tied the report to an enemy icon on the far side of the river, so Harris presumed they were under direct fire from the far bank rather than taking artillery fire. Still, they had only a few precious ATGM teams in the town, including the single Javelin section from Harris’ own security team. Losing one would be a serious loss. Harris tapped back a quick ‘keep me updated,’ and then began tapping out a SITREP to his higher command.

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“Well, what do you think Tom?” LTC Shawn Falkner asked his S-3 Operations Officer, MAJ Thomas “Tank” Abrams. The stocky officer was well known for his last name, despite having no immediate family connection with the Abrams family for whom the tank was named.

“Not sure Sir. Upham is in visual contact time now, but doesn’t seem to have too much of a read yet. He did confirm the front edge of the Russian security zone from that Reaper pass earlier, but without some more eyes forward at this point, is hard to tell.”

Falkner’s Battalion, the 3-69 Armor “Speed and Power,” was on the move, heading northeast of Kiev and preparing to make contact with lead echelon Russian forces for the first time. They had struggled mightily with the deployment – desperate haste and agonizing hold ups, with every little last minute additional piece of gear or information precious, but hard bought in time to acquire it. Kissing wives and sons and daughter, sobbing at the airport, texting and video chatting from the staging base in Germany. Then the desperate work to draw, load, check, swap, arm, and recheck all of the gear and vehicles from the prep site – days without sleep, with seemingly a million vital problems all happening at once. Finally the armor on trains and headed for Poland, and the long bus rides to follow. Downloading and road marching the vehicles up to the Polish border and then, like a different world – arriving in Ukraine. People cheered them as they crossed the border, and lined the streets for them in L’viv. They laagered nearby a small town outside L’viv for nearly a week, as add-on armor and APS systems were flown in to them by C-130. Townspeople brought them bread, and stuffed dumplings, and harsh samohon liquor. Then they had rolled out, and almost immediately the dismaying news that A Company was detached to bolster the flagging combat power of 2d Cavalry Regiment – the Stryker Regiment had been fighting for weeks already and was rumored to be down to under 50% strength. So much news, and everyone pulling it from seemingly everywhere – nearly all the Soldiers were staying tied into the internet somehow – but no time to sort out reality from drama. And now they were into it. Called forward from their widely dispersed assembly areas the previous evening, they had roadmarched forward in darkness for 12 hours, covering nearly 130 km to the northern outskirts of Kiev. All of that to arrive here, facing a Tier 1 Russian mechanized force, face to face.

The 3rd Infantry Division had already made contact with the 27th Guards Armored Brigade and the 15th Motor Rifle Brigade. The meetings had not gone well for the Russians, but neither had the Dogface Soldiers (3rd ID’s Nickname) loved the initial encounters. The Russian equipment was startlingly modern, especially the T-90 main battle tanks. The Russian APS was not as good as the hastily equipped US one, but it did quite a good job at stopping the Bradley’s TOW2B ATGMs. Thankfully, it seemed less successful at dealing with Javelins, and the vehicle remained vulnerable to the Abrams Sabot rounds at nearly any range or angle. But it was fast, accurate, and its cannon could smash anything it hit. Several Abrams crews had already discovered that they were not nearly as invulnerable to it as they had believed. Further, the US Bradleys were very nearly overmatched by the Russian BMP-3s. The 15th seemed to have the very latest model with good ERA and an APS as well. Its 100mm cannon fired a wicked HEDP shell that could airburst as well as point detonating, and it had a ‘down the spout’ gun-launched ATGM it could fire as well. As if that wasn’t enough, it further sported a 30mm automatic cannon as a coax, which was capable of penetrating the Bradley at medium range, and that could also fire HE rounds to get more suppression or destruction on light targets. In initial fights it was evident that US training was still vastly superior to the Russian’s, but not by as much as everyone had hoped. As far as courage, tenacity and dirty tricks went, the Russians were at least the American’s equals.

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Falkner and Abrams were crouching together in the back of the Major’s Bradley, looking together at the BFT II screen on a large MFD.

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“SGT Lerner reports that his UKR partners are just about into a gunfight with this Russian company here, just forward of the Tree Farm. He reports that a full Motorized Rifle Company (MRC) with 3 tanks has moved forward onto the forward slope of 347. They are going to put their infantry at them from woods on the hill, but if that MRC brought all its dismounts, it will be a tough fight. The rest of the UKR company is going to spread the field right and left, with a PLT swinging to the north slope of the hill and another to the south of Starov village. Lerner says the terrain in there sucks, with a nasty system of dried up creeks running north-south that limit lateral movement.”

Falkner nodded as his S-3 continued.

“Lerner did find out thought that the UKR have an element still holding out at Ukepor Power Station – we are supposed to secure that in one piece if we can – and apparently this guy can see most of the Russian deployment. Confirmed the Reaper read on another MRC down here west of Provinska Dvor. They are behind the intervisibility line (IV line) so are out of LOS of the Ukrainian Company, but for certain they will pop up on this southern flank at an opportune time. Reaper had them pretty clustered up though, so if 1-41 can get their guns set we can probably plan on hitting them.”

“That’s a tempting target, but I’m not sure I want to commit our arty to it at the outset.” Falkner said.

“We still have no comms with Blackknight?” referring to B Company.

“No sir, not sure if its EW or what, but we still have no voice comms and are getting a good 7-9 minute lag over BFT II to them. I sent the update to stop shy of 00 Easting, but no idea if they got it.”

“Well, thank God for Upham’s TACSAT link. As he finds their security elements in the north we’ll need to target those first, as Blackknight may just blunder into them. Once we have these three forward positions taken down or suppressed, we can focus Blackknight on flanking the MRC on 347 from the north. Might need to commit the mortars to a smoke shot to set that up, but more likely we’ll need them to suppress some other target somewhere. Put a smoke mission along the north edge of 347 in their queue though. To the south, Steel (C Co) should be a bit better, with all this rough terrain as they reach the 00. Their position will depend upon how the UKR boys do against the stuff to their front. If they do well, we may be able to put some Jav teams up onto the south slope of 347 to keep this southern MRC’s head down while the rest of Steel hunts them up through this rough ground south of the highway. If they don’t do so well... well, Steel will have to face off the guys at the tree farm, the MRC on 347 AND the MRC to the south. No real long shots in here, so the Abrams will need to be careful. We’ll need to either put the CAS, the helos, or the arty on that southern MRC I think. Probably no way we can dump anything on 347 – we’ve already got guys in close contact there. Nice that Brigade found all these toys for us though. I think it looks as though we are fighting a mostly forward defense. I suspect that once we crack these two companies, and the different security and ATGM outposts, the penetration to Krichek should be pretty straightforward. These woods along the stream with infantry in them may be troublesome though, as they are reverse slope until you are right on em, so make sure we save some arty or mortar ammo. Our priority is to get to MAJ Harris. We’ll plan to penetrate through to him first, and then roll south to link up with the UKR boys at the grain storage and power plant. Steel should be able to control some of that with direct fire by the time they are done with the MRC in the south anyway. If need be we’ll pass Darkknight Company through Steel, but hopefully they will manage before they come up. In any case, Darkknight priority of commitment is to achieve the linkup in Krichek.”

“All right sir, sounds good. I have your intent, and I’ll be on the net. Any idea where you plan to be?” Abrams asked.

“Not yet – I’ll figure it out as we approach. I’ll follow you in my panzer until we get a bit closer, then I’ll break off.”

“Roger sir – Speed and Power!”

Power 6 hopped out the rear door of the Bradley and jogged the few meters to his M1. The heavy ARAT2 tiles looked like Roman Legion shields, but they made good handholds for pulling himself up on board. He heard the turbine winding up as he jumped up, his driver seeing him coming.

‘Well, this is it.’ He thought. ‘Lets see if we are really as good as we think we are.’

So, this hopefully gives you a better idea of 'the plan' as far as it goes. Really wish that the US scout force was backed up by its own artillery and mortars, as would usually be the case. Then I could be attriting the Russian security zone forces in the north with precision fires right now. Strangely, I suspect that the key to this mission will be getting good infantry positions to enable Javelin shots, rather than slamming tank duels. I just don't see the range and sight lines cooperating, but perhaps I'll be wrong. I am very concerned about what is going to happen over the next 10 turns on the slopes of 347. If my Russian adversary fully controls hill 347 by the time I show up - a not impossible outcome - I will have a tough time getting my forces onto the map alive. This map isn't set up with the arrival zones being generally out of LOS. For this title, that is a serious consideration for scenario designers, as ATGMs and Thermals can spot and hit across the map in one turn. I skipped a turn with some of my foreshadowing earlier, and have another turn to get done. Hopefully you can all hang on until tomorrow for the next post when we see a bit more high intensity.

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Good report, like it very much. One thing though: your pictures are very wide - wider than my screen at 1440 pixels. That means that I have to scroll left & right. For pictures that's no problem but reading blocks of texts is really, really difficult when you can not see the right end of a line and the next lines beginning on the left at the same time.

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