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HerrTom

A Brutal! DAR

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I've always enjoyed reading AARs and DARs on these forums, so I figure'd I'd try my hand in it.  I'll be playing the scenario Brutal! as the Russians.

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Things are going well for the Russian advance to Kiev.  The highway E50 holds the key to the advance of the 32nd Motor Rifle Brigade as it continues its charge past Ukrainian defences. The 3rd Tactical Group Battalion has the task of capturing a small town known as Zhorstokyy that lies on a stretch of E50 to allow the rest of the brigade to continue its advance.

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Intelligence tells us that elements of some Ukrainian BTR infantry units have taken up hasty positions in the town overnight, though their strength and exact composition are unknown.

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Aerial reconnaissance has given us an idea of the layout and size of the city.  Of particular note are the tall buildings in the centre of the city at location (1).  These appear to offer fields of view on all approaches to the city, and hence a good location for an observation post.  Location (2) has a complex with good firing positions overlooking an open field to the east of the town, as well as some limited vision towards the southern bridge.  Position (3) has some tall apartment buildings that command the fields to the west of the town, but offer limited vision to the south.

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The battalion reconnaissance platoon and 1st company's 2nd and 4th platoons are currently in the area of operations.  Using the limited information and forces available, my initial plan is to set up observation posts to reconnoiter Ukrainian defensive positions in the town.

1st Company, 2nd Platoon under Lieutenant Aushev will advance in column formation to covered positions in the complex to the south of town and set up an observation post on the tallest building.

4th platoon under Lieutenant Yavorskiy has been split into a few sections.  Two MTLBs along with two machineguns and a grenade launcher will take up defensive positions to foil any Ukrainian movement in the west.  The other MTLB will be cross-attached to the reconnaissance platoon with a machine gun, forward observer, and a grenade launcher.

Lieutenant Strygin's reconnaissance platoon will advance to the edge of the road in the forest and dismount to provide a base of fire and an observation post to survey the east side of the town.

My current thought is to brute force my way across the bridge at location (1).  It is the most obvious route, but it is also the most covered.  Advancing across open fields to the west is dangerous with any ATGM threat, while the crossings to the east may prove difficult for tanks to traverse.  Hence, the bridge at location (2) is a secondary objective.  Location (3) is the suspected OP, which will be hammered by the 120mm mortars I have in support, as well as suppression fire from my vehicles once the lead starts flying.

I will be keeping a close eye on the apartments at location (4), though if things go to plan, they won't play a significant role in the battle until I can level them with support.  Finally, the suspected positions at location (5) make me nervous, though hopefully 4th platoons weapons and MTLBs will be able to dissuade them from moving.

 

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Strygin's scouts dismount and enter the forest to set up their observation posts as 0900 passes.  Just on time!

 

I hope this will be enjoyable!  I am open to comments, criticisms, insults, or whatever. :) 

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Vladimir, does the Russian army still use the Warsaw Pact standard markings?  I couldn't find anything that said the contrary, so I've been using them for this for flavour.

0902

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2nd platoon has reached its first objective.  Aushev follows the attached grenade launcher team and his assistant to the observation post positions in the complex.

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The leftmost elements of the scout platoon begin to take inaccurate fire from the town.  Strygin orders the squad to return fire and moves an MTLB forward to lay down fire on the building.

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Meanwhile, 4th platoon has very poor visibility to provide any useful information about the Ukrainian flank.  Yavorskiy has his weapons start to bound forward.  Hopefully, he can carefully advance to the top of the hill, maybe even take positions around the tower in the distance.

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Sarychev and his forward observer team spot what appears to be a BTR on the east edge of town.  Presumably the attached infantry squad is nearby.  The mortars are going to shift fire to the suspected Ukrainian position.

The rest of Aushev's forces will begin to take overwatch positions to the south of town.  The MTLBs will remain in cover for now, until the ATGM threat can be assessed.

Edited by HerrTom

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Thanks for all the feedback everyone!

Vladimir, I meant the tactical map markings (like I'm using on my maps), but it was worth a shot. Thanks!

John, believe it or not, I am indeed neither.  Thank you for the compliment.  It will probably soon become apparent once things get too carried away.

 

0904

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Aushev's platoon dismounts and moves into overwatch positions, awaiting further orders.

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Auschev radios his company command about 2 BTRs spotted in the western edge of town.  They appear to be in fairly vulnerable positions, though they pose a hazard to his platoon's advance.  Auschev decides to continue to monitor the situation while his platoon moves into position.

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Meanwhile, the reconnaissance platoon engages what turns out to be a Ukrainian machine gun posted in an office building located on the edge of town.  A combination of small arms and autocannon fire rain onto the position as Strygin prepares to cross the river.

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By the end of the minute, Auschev's platoon is almost in position, overwatching the western side of town. Unfortunately, sight lines from the ground level of the complex are rather poor.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  It'll mean that Auschev's troops can move closer to the town undetected, thanks to the hill and treeline in the way, but it also means that effective overwatch positions will be difficult to obtain. Once we hit contact, it may prove difficult to quickly retaliate with overwhelming fire.  To combat this, I may have to send the MTLBs forward with Auschev to provide heavier fire support with the assault, probably with the infantry in front to to spoil any eager anti-tank equipped defenders.

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Hasty movement forward may be bloody, even with support.  I'm inclined to wait for a full assault until the rest of the formation arrives - especially 2nd Company with their armour support from 3rd Company.  In the meantime, Aushev decides to carefully advance forwards to the treeline to better reconnoiter the Ukrainian positions around the spotted BTRs in suspected platoon strength watching over the southwest approach.  The men of 2nd platoon are clearly nervous as their commander orders them to take extra RPG-26s from the transports.  Auschev hopes that this extra firepower will allow them to deal with the Ukrainian light armour if it comes to it.  After all, it's harder to take out four men with RPG-26s than one man with an RPG-7...

In the west, 4th platoon reports no signs of hostile forces, and continues to advance forwards to the crest of the hill, wary for potential ambushes.

At the highway, Strygin splits his platoon into two sections.  The first section will remain in place, along with the weapons attachment which has just finished setting up their grenade launcher and machinegun.  They'll continue to engage the machine gun in the office building whilst looking out for any more potential threats.  Strygin himself will take 2 MTLBs and Byvshikh's 2nd squad across the river to the farm complex.  The approach should be covered from observation by the defenders, and the buildings may offer some positions to keyhole in on the suspected BTR and machinegun nest.

The mortar fire on sheaf N:1 should shortly begin to shift to position N:2 for a few shells to keep the defenders' heads down.  I'd love to start bombarding the confirmed BTR contacts to catch their supporting infantry and provide a screen for 2nd platoon's advance, but Sarychev is not in a good position to call in support.  Perhaps its for the best, since we can focus on sapping the defenders along the main axis of attack.  (N.B. - I'm working on a battle plan with the information I have now for the full assault along with a nice and clear topographic map.  Hopefully this shouldn't take long)

Now that contact has been established, it is important to maintain the initiative.  If we let up to reorganize, it will offer the defenders a chance to regroup and reallocate forces.  Keeping up the pressure by advances and maneouvre will force the defenders to react to our movements and sap the defender's morale.  Brigade HQ plans to have the town cleared of defenders by 1000 today, and the rest of the battalion won't be here for at least 20 minutes.  We really are pressed for time, but hopefully this won't lead to rash decisions that will sacrifice the lives of my pixeltruppen!

(N.B. the second - I've updated the look of the map by making it slightly higher resolution as well as adding some annotations and a stroke around the markers.  Hopefully this should be easier to read!)

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So the current plan of attack is to pin the defenders by skirmishing them until the main force arrives.  We will identify and knock out (if possible) enemy heavy weapons before the main force arrives.

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In preparation for the assault, Aushev will form up along the treeline and take out the two identified BTRs and prepare to advance along the edge of town to the river.  Yavorskiy will remain in position, interdicting any Ukrainian movement to reinforce the town.  Reconnaissance will cross the river, leaving the heavy weapons of 4th platoon in position to lay fire down on the southeast edge of town.

In preparation for the assault, a dense artillery barrage will land on sheaf N:3 to suppress any dismounts located in the housing complex.  As the barrage lets up, 2nd Company will advance in column along E50, laying heavy fire on the town as they advance.  Cross attached weapons from 4th platoon and organic support will be pre-positioned to assist in the fire.  Upon reaching the town, 2nd Company will dismount and advance to the northeast.  Simultaneously, the dismounted elements of Strygin's recon platoon will assault the east edge of town under autocannon cover.  As 2nd Company and Strygin start their advance, artillery will be shifted to bombard the apartment buildings to the north of town.

I plan to cover the town in a rain of steel to break the will of the defenders and their commander via decisive and aggressive action.  The pivot from skirmish and recon will be sudden and unexpected.

What do you guys think?  I'll make sure to record video of the violence of the assault.  It'll be too good not to share!

 

(Also, if anyone wants to use my Soviet-style map of the battlefield, it's here: http://i.imgur.com/ta7HJcE.png)

Edited by HerrTom

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0905
The first Russian casualty!  At least he died for a good cause: protecting the company's armoured assets!

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A brave soldier next to Sergeant Minaev is struck by an anti-tank asset, killing him instantly.  Fragments injure three others, including Minaev.  Luckily, Minaev spotted the source of the RPG and directs his squad to suppress the position.  He directs the MTLB crew to fire upon an ATGM position while the other one moves forward to suppress the RPG.

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The AGS team also sees the ATGM and lays 30mm grenades on its position.

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Strygin advances to the edge of the forest behind the AGS.

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Aushev and his assistant spot a third BTR moving south along E50.  He orders his MTLBs to carefully move out of cover to begin to engage the vehicles.

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4th platoon is almost in position now, and still does not see anything hostile.  The contacts in the west side of town have firmed up to a squad of infantry with at least 1 RPG as well as 3 BTRs.  On the other side of town, more enemy positions have made themselves known, including a second machine gun and an ATGM position on a roof.  The suspected BTR's engines revved as it rumbled towards the farm complex, alerting Strygin's team.  2nd squad has pulled out of the firefight for now and is moving to support the river crossing, which is now using the secondary ford to the east to provide better cover.  I hope Strygin can knock out the BTR before it knows what's going on.

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I tried making a 3d view of Strygin's situation.  I'm not sure I really like the result, but I'll try to improve it in the future.

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More excitement!

0906

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Another ATGM slams into the ground, short. This time it thankfully missed Minaev's squad.  The heavy return fire is taking its toll on their morale, though.  The group frantically searches for the source of the missile...

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Gunner Rudakov's heart drops as he sees death spiral towards him, but the ATGM's source is spotted by the other MTLB, which lays 30mm shells onto the launcher.  The missile flies high and impacts the berm on the southern side of the road as the anti-tank gunner ducks from the incoming fire.

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Minaev's squad tends to the downed man under the covering fire of the MTLBs.  I'm very glad that I moved the second MTLB into position to support Minaev and the other MTLB.  Without him, I'd surely be down one.

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On the other side of town, Kabitskiy guides his MTLB into position around 2nd platoon's complex.  He carefully takes aim, and fires. 30mm shells pierce the thin armour on the first BTR.  He quickly translates his turret to the second BTR and squeezes the trigger.  The vehicle begins to smoke.  His driver shouts out about another BTR spotted on the highway.  Thunk thunk thunk.  A three-round burst tears into the final BTR, sparks clearly visible through the rain.  Alas!  He doesn't see another BTR hidden in a garden.  14,5mm bullets impact the vehicle, but fail to penetrate.  Kabitskiy orders his driver to reverse, full speed!  Another barrage of fire pings on the turret.  They penetrate!  Fragments hit Kabitskiy in his arm, and his driver cries in terror and begins to bail out.  The vehicle has sustained no damage, but it remains to be seen if it and the crew will survive.

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The soldiers of 4th platoon enjoy the idyllic views of fields while listening to the chaotic sounds of battle to the east.

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Not much has changed in the tactical situation, minus the destruction of three BTRs on the west side of town, and the destruction and suppression of two ATGM positions on the east.  The BTR heading to the farm complex has disappeared from view, presumably moving closer to Minaev's position.  I'm assuming he's carrying a squad of infantry, which may prove deadly at close range.  Strygin and 2nd squad will quickly board their MTLBs and cross the river to assault the farm complex from the east.  As far as I know, they're still well hidden from the Ukrainian commander.  A hasty ambush will keep him on his toes.

Bonus!

Witness Minaev and Rudakov's ordeal in motion!

Edited by HerrTom

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Thanks, Ian. I'm having lots of fun writing this up, too!

hattori, I'm interested in hearing about it when we're done here!

0907

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Things begin to go south for Aushev.  The BTR hammers Kabitskiy's MTLB as the crew bails.  A lucky 14.5mm round punctures the fuel tank and ignites the vapours, causing fire and smoke to pour out of the open hatches.  The other two BTRs are unable to locate the enemy vehicle, but suppress the area with autocannon fire.

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Strygin's assault team crosses the field to the waiting personnel carriers unmolested.

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Minaev moves into the forest from the road while the first spotting rounds land in the background.

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That pesky Ukrainian ATGM is miraculously still active and lets off another shot while under heavy grenade and autocannon fire.  I've got to give the man credit, he's one brave sucker!

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... and one damn lucky one, too!  The missile hits true, piercing Rudakov's upper front hull, killing the driver as they bail out.

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This ATGM gunner deserves a medal for guiding the missile while this is happening around him and actually hitting.  He also deserves a kick in the arse for missing the three previous shots!

Back to Strygin:

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Above is the current situation on Strygin's sector.  Strygin will adjust the assault plan slightly, leaving 2nd squad and an MTLB to engage the BTR which has popped up in the near side of the farm complex while he boards the other MTLB to cross the river and assault across the field.

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Overall, this wasn't a good minute for my forces.  Two APCs knocked out, with not much to show for it.  Yavorskiy is going to send a PKM and MTLB to take position in a gas station and support 2nd platoon.  1st and 3rd squads in 2nd platoon are going to cross with the remaining MTLBs to the treeline and begin to lay down the pain on the western town.  We don't want them getting too heartened from taking out an APC now, do we?  Spotting shells have finally arrived on sheaf N:2.  The full fire mission of 8 shells should land in the next minute or two.  I may have to shift it again to take care of that pesky Kevlar ATGM team in the office buildings.  At least it appears the PKM in the other office building has been knocked out!

My forces are getting spread thin, which worries me, and 2nd Company is still 20 minutes away.  If I can secure the bridge approach, I should be able to provide better mutual support between Aushev's and Strygin's platoons.

The current force trade so far has been:
Russian losses: 2 MTLBs, 1 crewman and 1 machinegunner
Ukrainian losses: 3 BTRs, 1 machinegun, 1 ATGM.  6 crew and an RPG team also are suspected dead.

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0908

From the fragmentary information coming through the radio, Strygin is beginning to regret leaving the rest of his force with Minaev.  Even more so, he's beginning to hate that Ukrainian ATGM position.

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The second and final MTLB on Minaev's position gets knocked out by an ATGM from that same damn gunner! Why won't he die?!  In 3 minutes, 120mm mortar fire is going to level that building.

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The mortar fire finally lands on the other machinegun position, wiping it out.

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Auschev's platoon advances to the treeline behind their MTLBs.  An RPG misses the one pictured and injures two men.  (This is becoming a theme...)

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The RPG's source is engaged by the MTLB, which quickly pivots to engage a new BTR.

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Auschev's platoon engages an enemy BTR.

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Not much of a change in the overall situation.  2nd platoon has advanced further forward, and Strygin's APC is about to ford the river.  Artillery is going to shift from sheaf N:2 to the ATGM position.  I have to take that out to prevent it from wreaking havoc on 2nd company.  Shelgunov and the MTLB from 4th platoon are making their way to the gas station.  A spotting shell landed in the forest south of Minaev's position.  They'll have to move within the next few minutes to avoid getting bracketed and hammered by Ukrainian artillery.

It's only 8 minutes into the battle, and I've already taken some fairly serious casualties in my advance force.  I know I've inflicted some hurt on the Ukrainians, but I estimate that there's somewhere in the realm of a company, maybe even a reinforced company, defending the town.  For now, I'll play right from the classic Soviet doctrine, right according to plan.  1st company will continue to identify problem areas, pin the enemy in place, and exploit any opportunities that arise.  Second company, once it arrives, will smash through the enemy defences.  I think I overestimated the amount of damage that 1st company will and has been able to achieve so far, which may mean a less aggressive drive into town by 2nd company, replaced instead by a more deliberate assault across the bridge.

Bonus Video Mark II!

Minaev definitely got the short straw today.

Edited by HerrTom
More analysis

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Am loving this report.  Re discussion, my take is that these are supposed to be the recon element - designed to spot enemy positions for when the main force arrives.  However, it is so easy to get carried away with enthusiasm and start using the initial forces for assault.  Is that what is happening here?

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Pete, that's entirely correct.  He's a clever bastard, too!

AtheistDane, I'm running the game on an NVIDIA 970M and and i7-4790 at 3.6 GHz, 16 GB of RAM. I've also got a graphics injector called Reshade running, which is explained a bit more in my posts in the unofficial screenshot thread.  I also recently added an SSAO shader, which is why the 9:08 turn looks slightly different from the previous ones.  I think I like it, but there's one big glaring bug in using it.  Tree leaves and smoke aren't rendered in the depth buffer, so the SSAO and depth of field don't behave correctly with them!

Erwin, kind of yes and kind of no.  I've been following Soviet doctrine to an extent, where there are multiple echelons of forces in an attack.  The first element advances to contact to identify and engage enemy positions.  Once the Schwerpunkt has been identified in the enemy lines, the second element arrives with heavier firepower to assault the position and produce a breach in the lines.  Finally, follow-on formations will exploit the gap and conduct deep operations on the enemy's supply lines and support assets, disjointing and demoralizing the defenders while causing large encirclements.

I definitely played it too aggressive with Minaev's APCs, as clearly seen by their destruction without much to show for it.  I don't intend to assault the company+ force the Ukrainians have garrisoned in the city with the forces I have on hand.  That'll be a job for the two to three rifle platoons and tank platoon that is in 2. Company with my current force's support.

Strygin is in a good position to continue advancing forward without undue risk, and I think that the entire recon platoon minus the weapons should have followed.  There's only a BTR and possible infantry in his way, and they're far removed from supporting fires from the town.  If I can eliminate them and get closer eyes on the town, I can identify other important strongpoints to hammer with artillery before the main assault.  The same goes for Aushev, though his force is a heavier one which may be able to knock out much of the resistance that would meet a bridge crossing.

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