Jump to content
LongLeftFlank

RAMADI (Iraq): Mother of All MOUT Maps

Recommended Posts

After 3 years of intermittent effort (since late 2007) my ultra-detailed map of central Ramadi, embattled capital of Iraq's Sunni-dominated Anbar Province is now complete. This map is largely (>90%) faithful to the Google Earth footprint (c.2004) and building details are based on viewing hundreds of combat photos and videos.

So why do this, and why did it take so long (I estimate 1000 man hours)? Two reasons:

(a) The Ramadi "campaign" (2004-2007) is important military history. It is now widely viewed as the "turning point" in the Iraq counterinsurgency, where by maintaining a foothold, however tenuous, in the provincial capital, US forces ground down hard core Baathist and Islamist insurgents until local sheikhs were ready to turn on them and work with the Iraqi government. During that time though, the people of the city paid a terrible price. The tactical challenges for both sides were unusual, and the tactics evolved over time.

(B) With no offense intended to other CMSF scenario designers, I have found that the urban maps on offer do not resemble normal Middle East streetscapes. Specifically, the "default" buildings have too many windows on all 4 sides (i.e. broad fields of fire) and too few walls. Tactically, this results in Blue being able to concentrate large volumes of ranged fire quickly to silence Red positions without ever needing to close in. On the Ramadi map, overwatch is far more challenging and even solitary snipers can be a b**ch to root out.

I have now moved on to scenario design, creating scenarios based on historical actions that took place from 2004 - 2007. These scenarios will be based on smaller chunks of the full map (I've successfully played platoon-sized actions on the full map, but they are sludgy on my 6 year old HP Pentium 4)

In the meantime, below are some screenshots of the full map. More to follow.

Comments, questions and suggestions welcomed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aerial shot of the Mulaab (Farouq) residential area at the east end of the map, whose look-alike blocks of drab cement Saddam-era houses (each within its own walled compound -- read miniature fortress) was the site of many of the fiercest fights historically. This sprawling neighborhood stretches a further 1km east and 1.5km south, including a football (soccer stadium), but I included enough of it to give you the general idea.

Saddam built this middle class area in the 1980s-1990s to house/reward veterans (and widows) of his wars in Iran and Kuwait. Needless to say, it was a hotbed of Ba'athist support.

Note the cemetery in the foreground.

Ramadi_E_Mulaab.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just north of the Mulaab area shown above is the gigantic Saddam Mosque, at the intersection of three main arteries: Route Michigan, "Easy Street" and Racetrack Boulevard. Note the water tower, one of several in the city that served the US forces as navigation points and the insurgents as sniper platforms.

Checkpoint 296, the traffic circle in the foreground, was the worst point in the city for IEDs in 2004-2005. The Marines set up OP Horea in November 2005 specifically to stop the lethal bombings of convoys pn Route Michigan between CP-296 and CP-295 (the Cinema crossroads). You can't see it at this level with my lame graphics card, but Michigan is heavily pitted with craters.... and this is just the 2004 version of the map when the city was fairly intact. By 2005 there were even more and bigger craters, filled with sewage, and lines of cement barriers. And the adjoining buildings progressively looked as though they were being gnawed by giant rats.

Ramadi_E_SaddamMosque.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! That is a fantastic map. I cannot imagine the work you put into. Now, get back at it and create a battle or campaign worthy of all that effort!!

Thanks,

Ken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent! It certainly needs a good campaign or battle. Maybe an extra long (4 hour?) battle as a stand in for a CMx1 style operation.

I'm also curious about the performance, CMSF isn't too smooth on huge numbers of units/structures. I'm wondering how this map would handle for people with mid to low end PCs, especial if you populate it with units.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm also curious about the performance, CMSF isn't too smooth on huge numbers of units/structures. I'm wondering how this map would handle for people with mid to low end PCs, especial if you populate it with units.

By the sounds of it, LLF is (sensibly) parceling it up into scenarios that won't require the entire map. I think otherwise we would have a fair bit of a wait before computing power catches up to play it.

An incredible achievement!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always tried to work up the inspiration and dedication it would take to create a beauty like this. I have no doubt that this gem will truly be a legendary map in the CMSF community, thank you!

As long as we find a way to run it without 4 frames per second :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LLF - Great looking map! Ramadi was exactly part of the turning point in OIF......This work / efforts of yours is definitely appreciated! Can't wait to be able to DL your map and put together some scenarios.....My limited gaming time has been lately taken over by ARMA2....but your map will defintely have me back to CMSF.

Any ETA on being able to DL the map?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the kind words, everyone. I was going to post some more screenies yesterday but work got in the way again.

As to when I'll release the map, I'd like to release at least a couple of historical (unbaked) scenarios using portions of it before I let other folks have the whole thing to use for whatever purpose. While I'm not a "serious" military historian or grognard by the standards of this community, my primary interest in gaming skews toward discovering "what it was like" (not in terms of the bloodshed and fear -- that's impossible -- but the tactical problems) within the limits of the game system. I've spent too much time on getting the details of this map "right" to see a bunch of Syrian tanks fighting the Panzergrenadiers or sumfink on it until I've done right by the history (or run out of steam on this project). Hope you understand.

As to framerates and stability, the saving grace of this map is that like the real Ramadi the terrain is pooltable flat -- there are only a couple of gravel heaps and ditches. I've been battletesting my map using small forces the entire time I've been building it to get the troops and terrain to "act right", and it's never crashed on me, although it's certainly sludgy sometimes when moving the camera "into the wind".

My two PCs are a 6 year old HP 530J Pentium 4 (1GB, ATI X300 card) running XP and a Dell Latitude D410 laptop with 2GB but a basic Intel card running Windows 2000. Your mileage may vary. I make no guarantees.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just time for one screenie tonight: it's from a work-in-progress scenario called "Spray and Pray", meant to be played as RED to showcase how challenging it was to hit the fortified Government Center complex and its Marine platoon. This is one of my "small" carve-out submaps -- if you look closely you'll see the Marine HMG bunkers (I built little +4 height hills for them to represent the sandbagged watchtowers that they really were).

In addition to the guard towers and entry control points (also bunkers), the primary Marine defensive positions were on the heavily sandbagged rooftop of the sturdy GC main building. But since the rooftop parapets make lousy cover in the game (as they should), I added a "single window" 3rd story to the building instead (the real GC has 2 stories, although it's taller than the adjoining 3 floor apartments). That still isn't perfect -- I'd rather have a "heavy" building type like CMx1 did -- but is the best cover the engine will allow.

GCBunkers.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not unexpectedly, I was able to locate your map on the google maps satellite view of Ramadi!

Seems as if everything is right were it belongs. Good job!

Best regards,

Thomm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LLF - Can't wait for your first few missions to come out! Just excllent work on this map - and I'm sure if breaking down operations into smaller sections of this map will help PC handle it....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×